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There is something I must dwell on
because I know more than I know and must learn it from myself.

— Marilynne Robinson

I recently had to ask a friend what day of the week it was. It’s been like this since my girlfriend Elaine died. The realm of grief which I now inhabit has taken me to a place where time and space no longer apply. Elaine’s recent death and my subsequent grief has stripped me of my defenses and left me naked, vulnerable and with an intense rawness and openness of heart.

I was trying to tidy up our bedroom this week and came across one of her cardigans in the laundry basket. As I picked it up I could smell her fragrance on it, I held it to my chest and face and began to weep uncontrollably. My knees gave way beneath me and I fell to the floor and just sat collapsed, hugging her cardigan to my chest. I began drinking in her bitter sweet fragrance with each fresh breath, I began to make noises that no longer seemed human, more of a guttural animal howl and moan that came from my belly, rising up through me like a tidal wave of loss and grief expressing itself in the world.

Even though it is very painful I feel the depths of my grief for Elaine is a reflection of how much I loved her. It is interesting that the word ‘grief’ has it’s roots in the Latin ‘gravis’ meaning ‘weight’. This feels very appropriate as my experience of grief is very much like carrying a heavy weight.

In our culture, we can often feel uncomfortable with grief and loss. It maybe more helpful to see grief as a blessing, because it is a deep calling to return home to ourselves. When the experience of grief or loss enters our life, rather than seeing it as something that separates us from the world, we could try to allow it to bring us into a deeper relationship to what it is to be truly human and alive.

The Blessing of Grief
By Elaine Dunstan

Grief is a beautiful emotion, I said
She looked at me, eyes wide
how can you say that?
My grief is painful, its fearful and lonely
Yes, I said and it is in this pain
that you can begin to awaken to life
opening fully to grief, acknowledging loss
will cure you of numbness, your own deadness
it is the most courageous doorway
to being truly alive.