Dirty Dishes

 In A Better Life, A Better You, Life Stories

“Grief expressed out loud, whether in or out of character, unchoreographed and honest, for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.” – Martin Pretzel

By Julie Daley

LOVE AND GRIEF

I remember the morning well during my Process in 2002. As my teacher handed each of us in my small group roses to take to the cemetery, he surprised me with one more – a rose for my late husband Gary. My teacher’s gesture to include Gary in my Process really moved me.

I hadn’t really entered into the grief that was present even though Gary had already been gone seven years. The shock I experienced right after he died carried me along for quite a while in the beginning, as his death was sudden and hard to take in, let alone accept. The shock slowly wore off and I became more present to the reality of things. I began to feel the grief that had been gathering itself around me, waiting. It had laid out a banquet of emotions, offering a way through the huge change death had brought to my life. I’d never learned how to grieve. Instead, I was taught to deny the impact of death by taking in the facts, while pushing the deeper feelings aside.

GRIEF’S DIRTY DISHES

To a greater or lesser extent, we’re taught to deny grief, to get over it, and move on; as if one could ever move on. Yet, here’s the thing about grief: grief doesn’t go away. It gathers itself around you, waiting to be embraced and experienced. When they’re not washed, the dirty dishes of grief grow crustier and crustier. When we don’t wash them, we ignore them at our own risk and peril.

One month after the Process, I finally scattered Gary’s ashes from the very top of Mt. Lassen.

woman scrubbing pot

I felt strong enough within myself to let him go – and to begin to set myself free. The Process helped me to begin to truly grieve, not just the loss of Gary, but other losses, too – some as old as early childhood, others that had happened just before coming to White Sulphur Springs. The dishes had piled up high. With my newfound understanding of how to navigate emotions from a healthier Quadrinity, I began to scrub those dishes in earnest.

LOVE IS THE THREAD

Loss has been a big part of my life. Yet, it’s taken me a long time to see that love was the underlying thread running through all of this loss. Deep, beautiful, foundational love. I’d lost the thread. With so much loss, it can feel like you’ve been forgotten, left behind, abandoned – like someone’s turned off the lights. Grief’s intelligence can bring us back into Spirit’s embrace. To grieve is to honor what we miss and will not see again.

We can feel grief for so many things we experience in our lives; but the death of a loved one can bring us to our knees. As a result, death reminds us of our humanity and mortality, and how little control we have.

LOVE PRAISES

With a healthy relationship with our Spiritual Self, we come to understand that the intellect is not all-knowing, that our emotions are a key part of our human experience, and that our bodies hold vast wisdom. Ultimately, it’s through the process of grieving that we praise what we’ve loved and lost.

That’s how love is: love praises, love honors, love sings.

In the Process, we come to know the true nature of love and it is the nature of love to praise what we once held close in our arms. It is love’s true nature to grieve. Love’s intelligence holds and guides us in our grief. Love’s strength makes us more human by trusting that love will carry us, in its arms, through our journey of grief.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Tami Tack
    Reply

    Beautiful and powerful article! The metaphor of dirty dishes touched my heart and mind. Loved how you incorporated the quadrinity into the grieving process.

    • Julie Daley
      Reply

      Tami, I appreciate hearing how the piece impacted you. It’s amazing how metaphor and analogy can open us up to see things in a different light. Thanks so much.

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