Healing work is grief work.
Shadow work is grief work.
Grieving is the healing.
Without grieving, we obstruct the flow of the divine intelligence of life that wants to move through us and pull us into deeper alignment with our greatest aliveness.
It’s no small thing.
We are taught to be afraid of our grief because it is wild and untamable.
It reminds us we are in a co-creative relationship with something greater than us, something we cannot control; a higher power that isn’t so petty as to judge us for our human foibles.
In cultures where the wildness is conditioned out of living, where death is feared into an industry, this very necessary and innate aspect of our humanity keeps us from experiencing all that we really long for.
Where there is joy, there is grief.
One of the reasons joy feels so vulnerable, or even opening to love again, is that awareness of the grief that lives inside of it. Inside of our vulnerability, inside our love and attachments, inside the shame (fear and grief) that arises to remind us of the ephemeral nature of all things.
When we embrace the process of grief, we can more fully and fearlessly embrace our joy too.
We also become more skilled at letting go of the things that we need to let go of, that pull us away from love.
We no longer have to wait until we are free of shadow or pain or loss or mourning to get on with our flourishing.
Our joy and flourishing is not a disloyalty to our grief and loss, but an honoring of if, of what was and how we loved.
And, it all has it’s own wise timing that cannot be rushed.
In the myth of the Phoenix, a potent symbol of rebirth, there comes a time in their life where they know it is time to complete a cycle. The phoenix then builds a nest (a funeral pyre) and with a clap of its wings, goes into flames and, perhaps like caterpillar soup, is remade in the alchemy of the fire.
As it rises out the ashes, the ashes left represent salt, or that which cannot be burned, the life force of life itself.
The phoenix uses myrrh to create an egg out of the remains. And, then, takes this egg and leaves it on the alter of the Sun God as an offering and a prayer for creative regeneration, for more life and in gratitude for what was.
In this myth, there is a recognition of death, of a time to complete a cycle. To give something up.
Usually, we experience through loss, the death of a loved one or another initiation of loss.
But we are often also asked to give up our patterns, attachments, beliefs, worldview identities, cultural paradigms, hopes for the future, dreams, longings for what will never be, or even the expertise we cling on to when life wants us to expand into more possibility.
Recognizing this space, the phoenix knows it must sacrfice what is precious in order to generate more life.
It offers the bones, the salt, the life force of life itself, that which cannot ever be destroyed, to the altar of the divine to create more wholeness.
This is our own personal spiral of grief, where we enter the spiral through loss and change, recovery or healing crisis, where we must let go.
Into that fire, we offer what needs to be recycled in order to be reborn into something new. We make a sacred offering of what feels so precious to us in order to receive our wholeness in return.
We learn what our relationship really is with the unknown, what needs to be healed there.
We meet the ache that never goes away, the pain of grief and longing and joy where our wound and Eros, God, dances in our continual becoming.
The more we embrace that this is a natural cycle of humanning, the less we have to “work” on ourselves like projects on a “to do” list, because we come to trust the natural cycles of our soul’s evolution.
In intimacy with the ache, we understand what is needed, what our particular Chironic medicine is cooking up within us, what to leave at the altar of the divine, how to spread flower petals with tears of our prayers and come back into resonance with what can never, ever be destroyed that is always living inside of us.
Art by Kirstin McKinzie
Dr. Mia Hetényi