Grief Keeps the Heart Fluid
Interpretation by Helene Olson-Reed
Yesterday I felt heavy. In my shoulders, in my heart, and especially in my head. Virus fatigue? Political fatigue? Climate fatigue? Not-enough-chocolate fatigue? I can’t pinpoint the reasons why I felt the way I did, I just…did.
For me that heaviness tends to manifest into a kind of all-day, low-grade depression that feels a lot like grief.
I have methods of getting through these days—long walks, calming music, stimulating podcasts, making mental lists of what I’m grateful for—but they still suck. And I’ve learned that I just have to let them suck and muddle through. The walks, music, podcasts, lists, and whatever other distractions I come up with help, but no matter what, I know that the heaviness, the grief, will travel with me throughout the day like a hidden sliver in my sock.
I hate slivers. And because I know the sliver is coming from within I start to get really mad—at me. I lash out—at me, and I say…. Hey, me what the hell is your problem?!
Yep. Vicious cycle.
There are other days when I have a clearer head and a sunnier outlook, but I still wake up some mornings feeling strangled by the surprise heaviness, the grief, the ache that causes me to punch the air, wave my fists, and throw an inner self-shaming fit.
A few days ago I encountered this quote:
“The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give. If I carry only grief, I’ll bend toward cynicism and despair. If I have only gratitude, I’ll become saccharine and won’t develop much compassion for other people’s suffering. Grief keeps the heart fluid and soft, which helps make compassion possible.” —Francis Weller
Thank you, Francis. Thank you for telling me that I’m allowed to hold grief without shame. I will add your words to my distractions drawer and pull them out when that heaviness, that grief does it’s breaking and entering once again.
Today I feel better. I don’t know why. I just… do. Maybe today is a day that I can hold more gratitude. Whatever the reason, I’ll take it.