Thursday, June 29, 2017

Finding a space for grief

It is not uncommon in my yoga classes for someone to be quietly shedding tears. From time to time someone sits and sobs their way through the class. The music and the closed eyes make this more comfortable. And I positively encourage it. No tissues or hugs that interrupt the person in their grief and cause them to feel concern about the people around them. Just leave them be to cry out their pain. In the past year three of my yoga students, all of whom were also private clients with deep trauma and pain, two with life-crippling addictions, have passed away. In one way or another, each of these deaths was a kind of suicide. And so it was me, the teacher, who sobbed her way through the class last Friday, in the little hall by the church where the funeral of one of these beloved women, was, simultaneously, being prepared. While able to express myself comfortably to a certain extent - to sing and chant with my fellow yogis was a great comfort - there was obviously a level of restraint since I was teaching. After that, I really needed to go into a field and scream, as I remembered doing after the passing of my beloved yoga teacher, but I had another appointment. From there I went to the funeral and did my best, as did the rest of the packed church-full, not to cry too loudly. Watching her sister, another beloved and inspiring yoga student, bravely stand and read a poem about sisters, moved me to let the tears and snot begin to flow. But it didn't feel acceptable to really let go. By the end of the funeral I felt I would burst. The field beckoned but instead I did my weekly hour with elderly folk with dementia. It was wonderful... no tears but plenty of laughter as I sat in an arm chair wearing a wedding hat, to keep one of the women company - she is very fond of the dressing up hats - inviting them to stretch their arms up between nodding off. "Breathe in Glenys and wave your arms about! Wake up Brenda! Yes Betty, I do have children, three of them... And relax your arms down and breathe out and have a lovely rest. That's wonderful Bob. Oh thank you Pat, your hat suits you very well too! Yes, I have three children. And breathe in and stretch your arms up again! Eileen I am not sure John wants you to tickle him... and relax. Swap hats Pat? Ok, why not ... thank you, your's looks great too! And brea.. Sorry Betty? Yes I do! Three!" And to collect the children from school... by the end of the weekend I was so full of unexpressed grief that I was cross and impatient and snappy. It was Monday morning when I finally sat down and cried. Why is a church, packed full of people who are likely to have in common the fact that they dearly loved and cherished the soul who has passed on, a place of such emotional restraint? A room full of people desperately trying not to cry, to wait until they are alone at home to let the tears flow, if it's not too late and the feeling hasn't been pushed down inside somewhere. Where, in our society, is it acceptable to cry and really not care how loudly or for how long? I keep wondering how the close relatives of the dear souls passed on are managing in their grief. Or how my wonderful close friend, who's mother just passed away, is finding time and space for her grief. Watching one of my yoga students break down and sob in class yesterday inspired me... a soul brave enough to feel what she was feeling when she was feeling it without trying to be or do anything else. This is why I love the Kundalini Yoga tradition of chanting Akaaaaal - the great undying - for 17 days after the passing of a loved one. We have been doing this in class lately and a room full of like-minded souls, inhaling deeply and bellowing out a long exhaled Akaaaaaaal feels like the most tremendous release of grief and pent-up emotion. I am reminded of the day I heard that my yoga teacher trainer passed away and I went into that longed-for field, a field right behind the house, it is important to note. I chanted Akaaaaaal at the top of my voice for a good few minutes. Then I asked her to speak to me. I sent her love and light and healing on her journey and I thanked her for all that she had given me. We were not that close during my teacher training, I was immature and on a self-absorbing journey, but now I understand how well she knew me and the incredible gifts she passed on to me. We were cosmically close, of that I feel sure. As I stood in the field the heavens opened. Moments later, and damp from the downpour, I walked back into the garden, where my father was sitting in the sun with his book. He looked up from his chair, bemused.. and suspiciously dry... "Why are you all wet? Rain? It hasn't rained here!" If Hanneke were alive today I know she would tell me that it is an honour to be a part of a soul's journey into the light, even if they don't make it there in this lifetime. That I can't save every one. And as a wise yoga friend told me, that there is a beauty to holding someone's hand on the way, and giving them glimpses of peace and relief, a beauty and a gift always worth the possible pain of disappointment and loss later on. To those women I offer my heart, and a healing guiding light, wherever they are now. And I thank them for all that they taught me and for the courage they showed me along the way. I feel that now that they are guiding me in return, lighting up the way for me to keep offering comfort and peace to the new souls who come my way. And I pray for a world where we are free to express ourselves without fear or holding back... tears of grief and tears of joy. Sat Nam text


R said...

How beautifully moving - thank you for sharing your thoughts, Georgie. We are all very lucky to have you in our lives xx

Georgie said...

Thank you R whoever you are xxx

Anonymous said...

Thanks for finally writing about >"Finding a space for grief" <Loved it!