Face Your Pain and Grieve to Feel Free

Written by Pat Sullivan

Pat Sullivan guides us through grief and toward discovering rainbows.

When my mother died in 1956 at the age of 38, she left behind a husband and three children who adored her. Unable to grieve, I spent many years trying to be brave. Unwittingly, I hardened into an example of a Native American proverb that says, "Until you shed the tears in your heart, you cannot discover the rainbows in your soul."

Then during a bioenergetics workshop in 1971, a knot in my belly let go and a flood of tears about my mother's death was unleashed. When the crying finally stopped, my body felt lighter. People seemed friendlier and I was ready to meet them. I began slowly to discover the ageless paradox: The more you are willing to face your pain, the more joy you liberate.

Wise Advice
Grief holds precious gifts:
Compassion comes alive.
You savor the present.
At the center of grief are many gifts. Compassion comes alive. When you know you can no longer say, "I love you" to one who is gone, it becomes more important to say it right now to those who still live. When you accept the fact that one day you, too, will die, it's easier to savor the present, to dare to stretch a talent right now or to dig deeper into a creative idea.

Some say that grief carves empty spaces into our hearts and souls. When we dare to explore these empty places, not stuff them with busy-ness or platitudes, we discover there's a doorway into the great mystery of life and death, and all that is beyond them both.

When the empty spaces of our heart are consecrated to grateful memory of what is lost, they become like new holes on a flute. Through these new holes, our deepest notes can be sung.

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