Girl School for Grownups

Like having a big sister, but better because I can't boss you around!

Good grief?

on March 5, 2015

The other day I was feeling out of sorts and unsure about what was going on. In yoga I realized this simple truth: I miss my parents. Almost immediately, the mean lady in my head started up: “It’s been over a year since they died!” “What is wrong with you?” “You know they were really sick, right? How can you miss that?”

I wish grief was predictable or worked on a timetable. But my experience is that grief is unpredictable and capricious and quite inconvenient. And resisting the feelings doesn’t make them better.

Months ago I read about the RAIN method by Tara Brach. RAIN is a tool to use with difficult emotions or situations and it stands for

  • R = recognize what’s happening
  • A = allow life to be just as it is
  • I = investigate the inner experience with kindness
  • N = non-identification with the emotions, sensations or stories

Brach writes:

RAIN directly de-conditions the habitual ways in which you resist your moment-to-moment experience. It doesn’t matter whether you resist “what is” by lashing out in anger, by having a cigarette, or by getting immersed in obsessive thinking. Your attempt to control the life within and around you actually cuts you off from your own heart and from this living world. RAIN begins to undo these unconscious patterns as soon as we take the first step.

You can read the full article here.

Maybe it’s a little like swimming in the ocean. If you get stuck in an area where the waves are stronger than you are, the temptation is to frantically resist the waves. But what works is swimming into the waves and literally going with the flow.

The other night I met a woman who was sad. She would have been celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary that day, but her husband died nearly 2 years ago. I have family members and friends who are grieving the loss of spectacular people who no longer walk on this earth. Grief is a natural byproduct of a life lived with connection and love. My prayer is that if you’re grieving, you can feel the feelings and get to the other side.

I still miss my parents. I think I always will.

4 responses to “Good grief?

  1. Amy says:

    Lovely post, Leslie.

  2. Carol Williams says:

    Dear Leslie,

    I’m sorry you are feeling a fresh wave of sadness over the loss of your parents. Losing them both so close together after taking such good care of them for several years must have left a double void. Because he needed me, I laughingly called GF my new best friend the last two years of his life. At the time I thought I was being the “good daughter,” but in reality I was given the gift of being with my father in a way I otherwise never would. The downside was that I missed him more than I would have had he died suddenly, and I was left with hours in my week I needed to relearn how to fill. I still miss him and wish he were there for words of wisdom and comfort. Whenever I see a lone pelican, I “know” he is there. It helps to share your grief. As you so wisely said, however, there would be no grieving had there not been so much loving and living. Much love, Aunt Carol

  3. Dee Brite says:

    I just wanted you to know how much I enjoy your posts. With every one I feel myself growing. Thank you. Date: Thu, 5 Mar 2015 14:42:59 +0000 To:

  4. Leslie Gandy says:

    Thank you, friends, for your kind words. In a perfect world, those we love would be with us forever. It helps my heart to know that others share the longing I feel, and that anyone takes the time to write comments makes my heart soar.

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