I Hope This Grief Stays With Me

“I hope this grief stays with me.” These beautiful words of Andrew Garfield, speaking to Stephen Colbert (starting at 4:20), have gone viral this past month. It’s as if we are a society hungry for these intimate glimpses into another’s experience. In fact, I believe we are a society starving for permission to speak of our own great grieving.

I describe my transformation after the deaths of my soul connect brother and mother as dismantling me and putting me back together differently.

In this conversation, we bear witness to the birth of Andrew’s transformation as he grieves a mother he adored. Notice his deep breath to balance himself as he aches to be able to speak of this breaking-open he’s experiencing.

Ignoring Death Won’t Stop Grief

We haven’t witnessed enough of these conversations throughout our lives because death has been repeatedly swept into the closet. People have locked the topic up and thrown away the key. There seems to be a hope that by ignoring death we will somehow escape its grip.

That tingle you feel when listening to Andrew’s words is part of what I refer to as the beautiful-horrible. That heightened state of emotion and awareness where the agony co-mingles with the miracle of experiencing deep love.

The awareness of how fortunate we were to walk with such unimaginable love lands deep within our bones.

Love Never Dies

When our special person dies, if we can open to it, we are baptized in the river flowing with the realization that love never dies. The understanding that there is a tangible, magical part of this person’s existence that will remain with us always. That is what I saw in Andrew’s emotive face and heard in his lovingly anguished words.

Let’s all do better.

Let’s commit to role modeling emotional literacy surrounding death.

One way I’ve done that is by speaking with folks, listening to them, regularly on The Death Dialogues Project Podcast and other places where people tell their stories surrounding death. By listening to conversations that let us peek into another’s experience, like Andrew’s, we are practicing sitting with deep stories, as well as learning how to be more open about our own.

I wouldn’t wish deep traumatic loss on anyone, but as we know, we can’t wish death away.

There will be untimely accidents and illness and tragic deaths.

Our people will die.

We will die.

We are born into this one precious life and one day we will leave it.

Let’s look the elephant in the room right in its tear stained eyes and say, “Death, we see you, we know you will come again. Until then, just hold my hand and walk by my side and I’ll do my best to let your whisper guide me to love and live as authentically as possible.

Becky Aud-Jennison

After a lengthy career in human services and as a mental health clinician, Becky Aud-Jennison now considers herself a therapist gone rogue, creating The Death Dialogues Project and podcast to open an alternative space to support people and assist our society in easing the topic of death out of the closet. Becky describes the death of her very close loved ones as dismantling her and putting her back together differently. Our walks with death are unique and she believes we learn how to more effectively negotiate this terrain by listening to others' stories. Story is the foundation on which her books, the project, and the podcast are built. Reared in the middle of the United States, Becky now spends the bulk of her time on a hill in New Zealand overlooking rolling green pastures, the Whangarei Heads and harbor, along with the antics of five cheeky horses, two beloved dogs, and a cat. The answer to her daughter's question, "Do you realize you are replacing children with animals?" may, in fact, be yes. Becky and her husband have a blended family of nine children and three grandchildren. Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons: field notes from The Death Dialogues Project will be out 2/22/22. Find out more about the project and podcast at www.deathdialogues.net.

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