Blog: The Psychotherapist’s Corner

 

I have not published on this Blog for a while…I have started again leading off with some personal comments.

 Mourning and Openness

While one never gets over a loss…. I found that when my wife of forty-seven years died of ovarian cancer I was, for the first two years after, in a different place…I both knew that she had died and simultaneously didn’t know. I survived the first year by writing poems to her…which I called Talking to Julia…. that helped me cope the immediacy of her passing…. but one, as mentioned, never gets over it…one’s love just grows deeper. After her death, I have had a profoundly different experience of what it means to be alive….and that experience is a gift. Each person works out the mourning process as best he or she  can …but it is not something to be resolved, as if it is a developmental stage…rather in its deepest sense, it is a transformation.

Sometime, after my tears had lessened, I began to experience something that I had glimpsed intellectually but that had made little impact on my day-to-day experiences. Namely, to experience that I was not so much personally alive, as that life was living through me – I was, to put it simply, lived by life more than personally owning it.  In our capitalistic culture, we tend to experience life and life experiences on a consumer level …that is, “I” am alive, for example. But what I have experienced was not just the obvious fact that I was alive but simply, if one can put it that way, that life is living through me rather than life is something that I own or possess. We are owned, so to speak, by life, much more than it’s something we possess. And I believe that gives us great freedom to create ourselves, which, we know, is an ongoing possibility .

Mourning need not be only a time of grief; it can also open up a deeper understanding of ourselves, a fuller appreciation of how deeply we need each other as well as the possibility of knowing, on a very personal level, the reality of what life is. I am reminded of the ancient Hindu writings – the Upanishads – which speak of the oneness of everything and everyone and invite us ponder that truth as we live our everyday lives. Death belong to life, the Hindu poet Tagore wrote, as the rising of the foot and the setting of it down…..it is the flow of life that the living need to celebrate.