In my photography I am often blessed to be part of peoples amazing life celebrations. Sometimes those experiences produce pictures that are especially valued when loved ones leave this earth. Recently I have been extra aware of the veil between love and grief and life and death. Here are some thoughts about it.
It’s not perfect, you know, love; love is messy and vulnerable. And the best feeling AND the worst feeling. It is brutal and beautiful; love is brutiful. But love is worth it! Always.
Lately I have been traveling down a rabbit hole of reading. The many works of Dolares Cannon and Michael Newton have consumed me, in the best way possible.
The path to learning about past lives, this life, the next journey…is constantly decorated with the understanding that love is the fuel, the reason, the entirety. We are from love and we return to love, and that,….more than anything else, is the life-source-current that moves everything that our souls flow from and through.
I once read a story about the re-acclimation process of astronauts returning to life on earth. It appears that they all experience a period of depression when they return, but perhaps not for the reasons you think. The depression is visceral and has to do with the “way earth is.” Space is quiet, peaceful, soothing, weightless, timeless and most importantly, reverent. Upon returning to earth, every thing feels aggressive: loud, bright, heavy, burdensome. Our earthly plane is weighted and full of messiness. Gravity is limiting, responsibility is limiting, relationships are limiting. So of course, after the experience of space, returning to this planet plane is a rough transition. Who does not long for weightless peace and in a realm of timeless quiet?
But the thing is, the most important thing is…here on earth, this emotionally messy earth,…growth happens, because of love. It is understood that souls come to earth to experience the heavy nuances of love. But you have to actually come to this globe and live it; in all it’s messy tragic glory. Love can not be taught in a book, it can not be explained in a conversation, it can not be understood by merely observing it. So we come…to wade through the emotional earth muck, to interact, to be a partner, a friend, to perhaps parent and be parented. We come willingly to grow, understand love and “live” in this human realm, to participate all out on this blue marble of a playing field.
Here is where love gets tricky. Where there is love, there is grief. Where there is life, there is death. Where there is happiness, there is also sadness. These are the rules of the playing field. Everyone knows them. When you come to earth you agree to these unescapable terms. Avoiding sadness is as pointless as trying to avoid death. Life on earth is truly “brutiful” and that’s just the way it is.
If where there is love there is grief…
And grief is sometimes more tangible, more honest, more instinctive than love. Often grief is present in death merely because of the human condition. Most of us accept that when someone we love dies, they go to “a better place.” We say “they are free” or “they went home” or “they are at peace.” So perhaps grief around death is really sadness for ourselves that we are still here, on earth. Not home, not at peace, still on the weighted heavy mucky playing field. Because, friends, all the reading I have done…tells me that death is not sad. But rather a returning to peace, to the source, to LOVE!
What if we celebrated grief the way we celebrate love?! Glennon Doyle explains this concept with such clarity in her book, Love Warrior. She says, “Grief is love’s souvenir. It’s our proof that we once loved. Grief is the receipt we wave in the air that says to the world: Look! Love was once mine. I loved well. Here is my proof I paid the price.”
There was a nest of baby birds in my neighbors bush. The mother guarded her littles tirelessly. Instinctually she cared for them and would have given her life to protect them. Then one day she decided they needed to see more than safety, to grow, to face danger. With resolve she nudged them out and they flew away. Like those birds we are not meant to stay safe. We are meant to live and living is messy and scary and full of love and grief in equal amounts.
True love is wanting those you care about to experience life, to grow, to love, to know joy and pain. My wish for you is that you know love in abundance…AND that you lean into grief, every single chance you get. Living requires bravery. Next time you experience grief consider yourself blessed. From grief comes truly feeling and living and being on this earth. And that is scary. But we can be brave and being brave is merely being scared, but acting anyway….in spite of fear.
Pema Chodron says, “If you are invested in certainty and security, you are on the wrong planet.” Friends, if you are invested in jumping from the nest and living all out, in love and grief and human connection, you are on the right planet. We are here together now, waving our grief receipts in the air and saying…I lived AND loved well!
It’s not perfect, you know, love; love is messy and vulnerable. And the best feeling AND the worst feeling. It is brutal and beautiful; love is brutiful. But love is worth it! The baby bird looked back at her mother as she teetered on the edge of the nest and said, “What if I fall?” and the loving mother said, “But oh my darling, what if you fly?”
Oh my darling, fly!