This morning, as I was folding towels just out of the dryer, I was overcome. It took a few beats for the emotion to surface. I commented to my husband that the old striped dish towels, worn but usable for spills, belonged to my mother. I gave them to her at least 25 years ago. At first I laughed at the longevity of William Sonoma towels, then it hit me. I was overcome with grief. Missing my mom, my dad, my youth, my connection with family, my old life. I sat on the edge of the bed and sobbed. How could it be that my mother, gone now nearly 17 years, and my dad, 15 years, could still be so embedded in my emotional body? How did I get so old and I’m now just noticing? How is it that we are (culturally) so bad at claiming and talking about loss and grief?
In Rising Strong, Brené Brown writes: Grief seems to create losses within us that reach beyond our awareness — we feel as if we’re missing something that was invisible and unknown to us while we had it, but is now painfully gone. (P 146) On longing: Related to loss is longing. Longing is not conscious wanting; it’s an involuntary yearning for wholeness, for understanding, for meaning, for the opportunity to regain or even simply touch what we’ve lost. Longing is a vital and important part of grief, yet many of us feel we need to keep our longings to ourselves for fear we will be misunderstood, perceived as engaging in magical or unrealistic thinking, or lacking fortitude and resilience. (P 147)
Turning to these pages again brings comfort. I am not alone in experiencing loss and longing.
In my work facilitating Rising Strong™ with individuals and small groups (curriculum based on the research and book of the same name, by Dr. Brené Brown) we give ourselves permission to “rumble” with grief, loss and longing. It is never an easy topic and as we dig deep, tissues fly out of the box. We hold each other with compassion as we share our common experience.
I remember this as I rumble and give myself permission to acknowledge and allow the feelings to move through me. I practice self-compassion, as well as gratitude for my life and loves today. I will share this with my coach in our weekly session to help me discover the key learning from this recurring experience.
I am compelled to be vulnerable and share this tender emotion with you today because I want you to know, in the deepest part of your being, that you are not alone.
Thank you so much for sharing this. The experience is very familiar to me, and I appreciate your putting words (and Brené quotes) to help me understand it better. Yesterday when delivering the morning message at church, I was overcome with the kind of grief you describe. I talked through my tears, but as I looked over the audience, I saw four or five others who were also crying. It truly is part of the human journey. So glad to be taking it with wholehearted people like you.
On July 4th we lost our precious dog Anna. It was unexpected and fast. Your blog could not have come at a better time. Thank you Cate, you have always been there for me. Kindred spirits. Chrissey xxoo
Oh Chrissey, I am so sorry. When we lost our 15 year old cat a few months ago, every loss I had ever experienced tumbled back. We are feeling beings and honoring all of our emotions is a form of self-kindness. Thank you for commenting. I’m glad this landed at a good time for you.
May you feel your parents great joy over you in all your beauty, your courage, and your amazing loving spirit.
I’m so very grateful to them for bringing you onto this Earth! 💖
Thank you Kris. You continue to be a light and inspiration in my life. I love being loved so completely and I love you back.
I celebrate longing with you. I too have experienced moments, out of the blue, that connect deeply with someone long passed. It’s both divine & diabolical. I’ve learned to lean in & after honouring the nudge that connects me to family long physically gone, I smile & thank grief for helping me remember. Grief waits for me to remember people I love deeply.