On Grief and Healing

The heart, though broken and very much hurt, may never be quite the same but the constant effort to mend and soothe results in a simple and vulnerable “wholeness”.

If (like me) you’re fast approaching ‘mid-life’ (that’s on an assumption that the life expectancy is +/- 80 years), you may have suffered some varying form of grief or loss; death, heartbreak, unemployment etc. Right now, the big rock we’re mourning is the loss of a ‘normal-life’, what with the on-going pandemic and our rapidly changing lives. With that much uncertainty clouding the known world, I find myself getting caught up with my grief.

I lost a loved one last year and my husband got laid off in March due to the pandemic and on most days, I struggle to keep sane in my little ‘home-office’ tucked in a corner of our gym room ‘talking’ to my laptop via the many conference calls required. I miss many things, though I have come to realise that I do not need much to survive or maintain equilibrium. This is what I have been relying on, to help me with my grief

  • Fortnightly 30-min tele-therapy sessions
  • Wisdom from brilliant minds such as Brené Brown, David Kessler, Don Miguel Ruiz (to name a few)
  • Open and honest (non-judgemental) communication with my dear husband
  • Soul-nourishing food, most of which are prepared my my chef-husband (god bless him)
  • Our joy – two sons, 3 yo and 7 mo.

Those 5 things above are what I now call my essential go-tos, to feel whole. And wholeness is a something we are searching now, more than ever.

“Grief is a time when we try to find our wholeness again”

– David Kessler

Grief may break us even when we try hard to be strong. Being broken is painful. There is a constant desire to distract with ‘happier’ thoughts and sweep these feelings under the carpet. The throes of grief causes deeper cracks as we propel ourselves into the depths of our feelings because that’s how we humans emote.

The beautiful, and ancient art of kintsugi – ©

In many ways, I think of the grieving process to be very much like the Japanese art of Kintsugi (金継ぎ) or kintsukuroi (金繕い) – gold joinery (or precious metals) to fix broken earthenware. The heart, though broken and very much hurt, may never be quite the same but the constant effort to mend and soothe results in a simple and vulnerable “wholeness”.

No two kintsukuroi are the same, much like our individual experience. Every shattered fragment is unique, and when put together, forms an irregular pattern helmed by the pattern of each broken piece.

Broken. Put together. Wholly different. I am no philosopher, psychologist or therapist, but this analogy is relevant for me right now, as I seek to understand my mind, self and soul better. 

As for dealing with loss, I realised that there is no ‘moving on’, only ‘moving forward’. Grief becomes a part of you, like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle. Grief ‘guru’ David Kessler argues that “it’s finding meaning beyond the stages of grief most of us are familiar with—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—that can transform grief into a more peaceful and hopeful experience”. I could not agree more.

If you relate to what I’ve shared here, about grief and loss, I invite you to take a quiet hour for yourself to think about how you would prepare your own kintsukuroi and maybe take a listen to this brilliant podcast featuring David Kessler.

David Kessler expounds about the Sixth stage of meaning with Brené Brown.

Sending you plenty of light and love, whoever and where ever you are.