No Clean Slates With Grief

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It’s easy to fall under the spell of closure when working through grief, under the idea that with the proper  insight and enough time life will go back to normal. Goodbyes will be said, the gestalt will be completed, and everything will revert to the way it used to be.

There are a lot of grief counselors out there who sing this siren song. Who wouldn’t be tempted to take the bait? In the midst of despair, of seemingly boundless suffering, who wouldn’t want to purchase a salve that promises to wash all the pain away?

But there are no clean slates with grief. Working towards living as if the loss never occurred, hoping to close that important relationship once and for all, creates a psychological disconnect that ends up being more painful and damaging than inhabiting those feelings of despair. At least despair is authentic, allowing for the inner life to align with outer circumstances.

If you’re in the mud of grief, the solution is not to try to move towards the green grass because the green grass is an illusion. The solution is to decide to plant a lotus flower. In other words, use something ugly to make something beautiful. Take what has happened and use it as the impetus to be a better person and to help others be better people too, use it to do something meaningful in life that honors the person you have lost.

When someone dies or goes away the relationship with them necessarily changes but it doesn’t have to end. Recovery, if you want to call it that, can never be achieved by moving on with life as if this important relationship never occurred or as if it’s no longer important. Recovery can only be achieved through using grief as the impetus for self-actualization, transforming tragedy into triumph by retroactively giving the life of the person you have lost greater meaning too as they walk this same path of self-actualization with you.