What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes part of us. ~Helen Keller
Dr. Shelly’s SoulQuote Reflections:
What I Have Learned About Grief
Like so many others, I have been affected deeply by the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi, and the other precious lives lost in that helicopter crash. I have lived in Los Angeles for over 30 years and both of my sons grew up surrounded by a lot of Kobe energy. We love sports in our family and Kobe’s presence was strong in my house. As youth athletes, his #MambaMentality and resilience through injury influenced them profoundly. As young men, they have spoken more of their admiration of him as a father and his multidimensionality beyond basketball. When someone deeply touches our soul, when the expression of their gifts in the world shows us their soul, when we can relate to them at the soul-level experience, when the essence of another person resonates powerfully with our own– the connection can be incredibly intense, even if we have never met them. My sons, like countless others, felt this with Kobe.
As I have shared in previous posts, I was a Daddy’s girl growing up and lost my father when I was a teenager. Making a place for the inevitability of death was a big part of my early spiritual, psychological, and healing journey. Here’s a bit of what I have learned.
What I have learned is that the grief process is first a working through of the myriad of emotions (sadness, anger/rage, fear, pain, emptiness, joyful remembering, relief, gratitude, etc.) which includes experiencing, expressing, and sharing them in some way. It means respecting that everyone grieves differently and that the emotions that come up may be different. It also involves respecting that grief processes in its own time. Making space for emotions that arise over time and those that visit us again and again over the years is important, as this is part of the normal lifecycle of processing death. We must acknowledge and tend to them as they come, recognizing that they are a signal to pay attention to something that is moving within us– perhaps a call for honoring the person’s life and role in our own lives, or to work through something that was painful or conflictual in the relationship, or a releasing and freeing of something that has kept you chained.
I also have learned that the grief process opens space for the emergence of greater wisdom about the nature of life itself. Over time, insights about the ongoing cycle of life and death can arise, reminding us that change is given and nothing is promised. This is actually an incredibly empowering insight. Revelations about who you want to be and how you want to live, about the preciousness of relationships with those closest to us, can be energizing. For me, death is a reminder to both savor and seize the moments of our our lives– to honor them, welcome them, and experience them fully; to recognize our power within each moment to CHOOSE. I could go on and on about the wisdom and truths that have become clearer in the processing of the deaths of family and friends in my own life.
Ultimately though, I have learned that the grief process is the work of transformation. It is about how we process the presence and energy of the person who died and what we do with that energy, both within ourselves and in the world. I know that more than 40 years after his death, I can feel my father’s presence and his energy. Once I really recognized the power of this, my life changed. It was no longer about getting over it and moving on or feeling bad for being “stuck”, but became primarily about claiming and actively developing ways that his presence in the world could come through me in transformed and transforming ways. This process is not limited to our blood ancestors; the nature of energy is that it is everywhere and transcends time and place, the material and physical, such that people we have never met can have profound roles in who we become. Embracing grief for its transformative potential creates a different relationship with death and loss. So, for those of you impacted by Kobe’s presence and energy: first and foremost “feel what’s real”, stay in connection with your emotional experience. And then, when it is time, begin to allow the transformative power of his death to awaken within you, letting grief do its metabolizing magic such that energy becomes optimally useable; and allow whatever of his energy that has become part of you, to evolve in positive ways and come through you in forms that only YOU can manifest in the world.
“Within pain and loss is the power of transformation.”
(Close your eyes and repeat slowly in your mind or out loud.
Let the words penetrate your soul.)
(For Contemplation and Conversation)
Whose lived presence do you deeply feel?
Who do you carry within you…whose energy has become part of you?
How can you transform the energy of their life for the betterment of yourself and the positive evolution of the world?