Today is the day of the Winter Solstice. It’s the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Today, December 21, 2012, it is also the one week anniversary of the tragedy in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Perhaps we can help ourselves, each other, and those who live in Newtown by looking at the healing process through the lens of the Winter Solstice.
The Winter Solstice is the darkest day. But when the little ray of light shines through into the deep darkness on that day, it is also the beginning of the light’s growing again in the days, weeks, and months to come (and in the case of a tragedy, years to come). At the beginning, the growing light is imperceptible. But even after it becomes perceivable, there are long, dark days of cold, of hardened ground, and of snow and ice to come.
The turning from winter’s darkest day to the birth of spring is a long, deep time within and underground. Nothing external can really hurry it. It has its own timing, its own pace, its own rhythm. If we allow ourselves to go through the process – instead of trying to jump out of it, go around it, rise above it – we, too will come out in a new birth of life . . . each of us in our own rhythm and pace, not compared to anyone else’s. It will be a different life. A life that has gone through a death and a rebirth. But if we commit to the passage and get the help in the passage, it will be a time of transformation with new strengths and gifts to live and bring to life.
It is my deepest prayer that each of us will allow ourselves to go through the pathway of healing modeled by our Earth’s seasons.
Many heartfelt blessings . . .
Just as with many other losses in our lives, grieving is absolutely necessary in response to the tragedy in Sandy Hook last week.
The grief that is here for the families directly affected – the children, the parents, the teachers, the first responders, and more – needs to be done . . . deeply, thoroughly, and in the time, rhythm, and pace that each person is ready to grieve. And in addition, for the length of time each person needs to grieve.
All of us have been affected by this tragedy. And the grief is here for all of us. But not only is this grief here to be felt and moved through. Each time we face grief, it brings up all the grieving from our past that has been left buried and undone. That is why grief is usually so very intense and raw, beyond even the level that a current horrific tragedy could cause. If we didn’t grieve then and don’t grieve again today, even more grief will be buried deep within us – individually and communally. And the grief that is buried lays within us, ready to be set off again and again, and possibly to cause more grief in the future.
Grief un-grieved is part of what prolongs and then even causes more woundedness and more grief. Grief is not just sadness. Grief is a cauldron of feelings – sadness, fear, anger, hurt, confusion, helplessness and more. We need to have the help to feel that cauldron of feelings in healthy ways, without acting out on those feelings, either as a defense against the feelings or as a way of expressing them.
Nothing can truly help us bypass our grief. Nothing can truly help us rise above our grief. We need to walk through it . . . step by step by step. Or even crawl through it, if that’s our true pace. And we need the help to do it. Grief is such a crucial example of how our society – perhaps even our world – has tried to avoid and defend against feelings. It is such a crucial example that I included a whole chapter on grief in my book.* I called the chapter, “Abracadabra Alacazam! — All Grief Be Gone,” as a reflection of how we defend against feeling grief.
This is such a crucial example of how the fabric of our society needs to be rewoven. . . rewoven so that we, ourselves, as adults, find a way to feel our grief and other feelings as well, and utilize them for healing. And then help our children with their grief and other feelings as well. If we can’t tolerate feeling our own feelings, how are we going to even tolerate anyone else’s feelings — let alone help them with them . . . our children included.
Please, do not let anything that is said by anybody interfere with your allowing yourself to grieve in a healthy safe way! Don’t let anybody – within or without – interfere with your grieving. Don’t let the media, the spiritual leaders, the mental health workers, anybody interfere with your finding a safe, healthy, healing, truly transformative way to grieve.
*Judith Barr, Power Abused, Power Healed, Chapter Eight, pp.67-78 This chapter has been helpful to many who needed support to grieve deeply and safely.
© Judith Barr, 2012