Grief is not a feeling

“Grief’s not how you feel. Grief’s what you do. Grief is a skill. And the twin of grief, as a skill of life, is the skill of being able to praise, or love, life. Which means wherever you find one authentically done, the other is very close at hand. Grief, and the praise of life, side by side, the honored guests…and they’re toasting you. Grief…and the ability to love life…they’re clinking their glasses and toasting the living. So here’s to your health. Until the time comes we come to get you…live well!”

~ Stephen Jenkinson, Griefwalker

I came across this beautiful and moving quote  while recently watching Tim Wilson’s documentary film entitled Griefwalker, about Stephen Jenkinson, a Harvard-trained theologian and former program director of palliative care at a major Canadian hospital, who has made it his life’s mission, “to change the way that we die.” He says that, “The crucible of making human beings, is death.” That we haven’t fully lived until we’ve experienced and fully embraced death…including our own. I highly recommend taking the time to view the film…which you can see here.

It’s quite thought-provoking…that grief is really a gift. Perhaps the last gift that we receive from someone we love, and lose…but quite possibly the most precious gift that we’ll ever receive…if we’re open to it..if we become skillful at it, as Jenkinson suggests we must. It can enlarge our lives…if we pay close attention…not shrinking from it…but fully embracing it. Grief can teach us to live well.

Security and survival

I let go my desire for security and survival.

I let go my desire for esteem and affection.

I let go my desire for power and control.

I let go my desire to change the situation.

~ Mary Mrozowski

My house was broken into this week. Fortunately…I had installed a security system recently…and received an alert when the front door was kicked in, setting off the alarm. It probably scared off the intruders…but not before they grabbed what they could…a laptop and two Kindle reading devices that I had in plain sight in the living room. It made me realize what an iffy and fragile thing security is. It brought to mind Mary Mrozowski’s litany, which I’ve been repeating to myself lately. I thought I understood the esteem and affection part…and the power and control part. I had been wondering about the security and survival part. It also brought to mind something that Pema Chodron said…”This very moment is the perfect teacher.” I think I was being set up. I hope whoever intruded upon my space, at least, finds some edifying reading material on those Kindles now in their possession. I think that I…get the security and survival part now.