Grieving with Strangers


I do my best grieving alone, and I’m learning how sweet it can be to grieve in front of strangers. Compassion is everywhere.

I attended a weekend workshop for the first time since Jason died (for the first time in a year, actually – I don’t attend workshops too often these days, but it felt right; I can receive healing). I wasn’t ready before this to leave my cocoon (being alone or with close friends or family) for more than a partial day. On the third day I found myself wailing in the arms of a loving compassionate woman who I’ve met once or twice, and I liked her energy. I didn’t see the wave coming until I asked her for a hug. She held the perfect space for me. The entire room held the space, and, for the first time in my life, I let myself disrupt a workshop. We had just finished a series of one-on-one communications, and the room was quiet in some reflection time. The last thing I would ever want to do is to disrupt this peace with loud emotional sounds. But it happened, I let it happen; I could have held back the wave, but I really didn’t want to. It felt great, and from the feedback I received it worked for everyone else, too.

The reason it worked is that, at the beginning of the workshop, I asked to share something with the group. I told them about my loss, and that I was grieving. I might need space or I might need to cry out of the blue. I didn’t want to explain this to everyone I met. The death of a child often triggers strong emotions in other people. Sharing this opened people up to sharing things with me, including how my loss of Jason triggered them. This kind of open-ness is what creates intimacy and trust. I was held this weekend in a safe loving place, where I could be the way I needed to be and that was beautiful to others as well as to me. It gave others permission to be who they needed to be. It was a well-facilitated workshop, and the space was what we all wanted and what we created.

The first person I met was a young man, 18-20 yrs, in our dorm area. He was very friendly, and I wanted to smile but felt like crying. I held back the tears, but before the workshop started I asked if I could share something with him, and he agreed. I told him his energy reminded me a bit of my son Jason who died recently. After a nice brief conversation and a hug, I never cried again when I saw him. We smiled and danced and joked a bit in brief connections throughout the weekend, and it was nice to be around that youthful creative energy, the way I always enjoyed being around Jason and his friends.

Early in the workshop I shared a connecting exercise with a mother of a young child. When I looked into her eyes I felt such motherly love that I allowed myself to cry and just be held like a child and let her stroke my head. The crying didn’t last long, the smiles came easily when we realized how quickly we became good friends. I thanked her for being my mommy; I apparently really needed that – it fit with the message to be a child that I had received the day before from Jason. After that, I received a message to play, and I really got into that, too.

I appreciated my honesty and transparency so much, because it freed up my energy to be in the moment.

On entertainment night, I shared my gift of music, and it was a gift to me and to so many in the room who resonated with the singing bowl and my voice, opening up their hearts and their voices, bringing them relaxation. It felt more powerful than other singing performances, and Jason was there, being my biggest fan. We got the biggest laughs watching Kule’s group skit about “The Buddha has spoken”.

I might have gone the entire weekend without crying, I was having such a good time. But when the waves came, it felt so good to let them happen, to ask for a hug and cry, and not to have to wait until I was in the “right” place. Perhaps there is no such thing as a wrong place to grieve.

I realized this weekend that we make friends in an instant when we are open to that. I also realized that the reason I do my best grieving alone is that I am my best friend, and I am with this dearest friend who takes care of me until I die. That’s sweet.