By Leanne Chapman
“Your grief is your love turned inside-out.” ~ Alison Nappi
The losses started early and went unnamed.
My grief was not seen or heard, even by me. No one could meet me there, and being alone with it was too overwhelming, so I put it away. Over the years I began to fade as that dark storage container became more filled, to the point that I was afraid to open it. All the dark things in there might come crashing down on me at once.
I walked around in a fog, with half of my life force locked away from me, out of reach. It called constantly to me but I couldn’t visit it alone, and friends, partners and even therapists, were afraid to go there.
One day I learned its name—grief. Our society barely allows people with an obvious loss to express their grief; there is no room for hidden losses such as adoption, estrangement, rejection, disconnection, abuse and neglect. Once I knew its nature, I found people who were able to go with me to answer the incessant call from the depths. The anticipation of opening that dark container was terrifying. But I didn’t do it alone, and what came out of the darkness was beautiful.
My grief—vivid, powerful, pulsing with life. My voice, my passion, my love. I held them all to my heart and cried for all the years that had kept us apart.
My companions did not look away. They stood with me and witnessed my reunion without judgment, with no need to insist my grief be put away again. Together we carried my treasures back into the light. I brought them home to my body, and they breathed me back to life.
They grew so big in the light that there was enough to share. I made an altar and invited others to enter, those who could stand in its light without turning away. Your grief is a holy thing, designed to run through your veins just as your lifeblood does. When it knocks at your door, invite it in.
Make a place for it by the fire, and then sit at its feet and weep.
Leanne Chapman is a therapist and writer. She knew she was a writer from early childhood but it took decades to find her voice. In the meantime, Leanne became a therapist, trying to help others make sense of their lives as well as learning to understand her own. She now lives in a wooden pole home amongst the trees with her rescue cat Jade, where she works with clients and writes about love, loss and healing. You can find her on Facebook and her blog.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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