Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.

Rumi

I don’t mean to be too Rumi-fied, but so often he has a way of saying something than no one else has been able describe, and it touches right at the heart of exactly what I feel.

We all know grief. We grieve when loved ones die, we grieve when we lose love. We experience grief as the temporary yet concentrated pain of loss. But grief can also be deep, personal sorrow; it describes our indescribable internal pain. And not only can we grieve for ourselves, we probably grieve for ourselves all the time.

Feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy, self-hate, etc. are signs that you are grieving for yourself. You are grieving for what you know you could be, but can’t seem to actually be, and living this emotional contradiction is debilitating. We think, “Why can’t I be motivated? Forgiving? Less selfish?” We know we could, we just . . . can’t. And often we don’t feel that we can only love ourselves when we become “what we could be”. The grief for this loss or lack of self-love then contorts into anger to cover up the pain. Because we all know how easy anger is. And we all know how desperately we need to avoid what hurts.

But we must have compassion for the grief. When a friend grieves the loss of a parent, we automatically become our most empathetic and sympathetic selves. We stop judging them, we allow them to be as flawed as they need to be through their pain. This is our human nature. In a way, grief naturally inspires compassion.

So can we allow this process to work internally? Can we acknowledge our grief and feel compassion for ourselves? If we could, we would flood ourselves with such love that the only inevitable movement would be towards those selves of potential whom we are mourning.


Photo by Steve Miller

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