How to be Witnessed through Grief
One of the most common things I hear from people going through grief....
...is that they want their experience to be validated and witnessed.
Grief is a very vulnerable space for most of us though, and to allow someone to witness us in that vulnerability is really scary.
It also takes great courage to witness ourselves through grief. Because so many people quickly 'pull themselves together' and 'push on' in life, without creating the time and space to feel deeply into all the emotions that are arising, many people don't even know how to witness themselves.
This past week, in going through the continued layers of grief in my own life, I've noticed a deep desire to just be witnessed. To have another person see my tears, my anger, listen to the words of fear and worry, without having to try and 'fix' or 'solve' what I'm going through. Thankfully, I do have friends who are willing and able to offer this to me. But it got to a point of not really wanting to talk to anyone about it anymore (it can be exhausting re-telling our stories of loss, am I right?), and still wanted to somehow validate my feelings.
Here's what I did.... I allowed myself to feel deeply into the emotions that were arising. Feelings of chaos, of great loss, of disappointment and a strange sense of failure. I let the tears bubble up to the surface and run down my cheeks.
And I stood in front of the mirror.
I looked into my own eyes, puffy and red, with tears streaming down my cheeks, my voice cracking in pain and agony, and I witnessed myself in that moment.
Now that is vulnerable! It was challenging even for me... And as I looked at myself in the mirror, seeing myself in such rawness and pain, I felt empathy. I felt compassion for the woman looking back at me, heart heavy and life in disarray. My arms began to curl around my body, and I held myself.
Later on, I found my way to a dance practice that has become such deep medicine for me. Though I had witnessed myself, held myself, and felt empathy for my soul, I still needed to transform the great wave of emotion that was barrelling down on me internally. For the first 20 minutes after arriving, I just swayed, one hand on my belly, one hand on my heart, and cried. Weeping, weeping, weeping over the loss in my life, and the finality that was beginning to hit me. Eventually I found myself dancing, stomping, wailing, and shaking. The deep, raw dance of my ancestors. The outcry of all those who have experienced loss. The howling for wholeness and recovery from pain. Bless that beautiful dance community, for they allow me to be fully me. And the floorboards, I give them my gratitude, for they soaked up my tears, took the pounding of my feet, the stomping of my heartache, and they did not waiver under my weight.
You, too, are aching for validation. To be allowed to just 'be'. To be witnessed in the fullness of all your emotions and expressions. And like the dance community has been for me, I offer you a safe space to let it all out. The space and permission to feel all the depths of your grief; to rage over your loss; to sit in numbness and bewilderment; to cry and wail; I'm here to witness all of you.
In raw authenticity,