It's all about having compassion for yourself ... despite grief bursts, heart-wrenching questions from your two year old, and unattainable yoga poses!
Yoga, Grief and ClichesBy Valerie Willman
Grief is like Bikram Yoga, I think. In class today, I was reminded that my body sometimes betrays me and doesnt fold into a pose I could do the day before. Or my balance will be all wonky and I cant stand on one leg in one pose, but in another I can. When I first attended these yoga classes I would rage inside when this happened. I could get my forehead to my knee in this pose two days ago, why not now? Last week the instructor told me I had the best balancing stick pose in the class, and today I cant even get into the pose without falling forward on to my hands. This new source of irritation would rankle until the whole class was ruined for me and my dour mood would follow me home and extend to the children, or a headache would blossom and Id suffer the rest of the day. Now I know that the trick is to recognize that this is just where my body is that day. I can meet myself where I am and accept that this is who and where I am today. And thats ok. Its more than ok, actually. Its loving. Its selfcompassionate. Grief, for me, was like this as well. Id get past taking off my wedding ring. Id give away his last pack of cigarettes. Id welcome him in my dreams and channel his words in my journal. And Id feel quite pleased that I was handling it all so well. I was applauded for it, even. And then a grief burst would smack me along side the head and humble me to my boots. Id hear my infant son laugh for the first time and reach for the phone to call Rob. It was uber-confusing. Id rant and cry and write in my journal and try to swallow the scorched and scrapey feeling in my throat. Would this wretchedness never pass? Just when I thought I was over the worst, a resplendent low would
stun me with awe. Like when, on Valentines Day night, I was soberly closing my eyes to the unromantic and helpless day I just spent without Rob, when Aubrey crept into my room hours past when I thought shed been asleep. Whats wrong, Aubrey? I rolled over to face her and brushed back her dark bangs. Wheres Daddy? Quite frankly, this stumped me a little. This wasnt a new question, but it was one I thought wed dealt with. Hes in heaven, Sweetie, I said. Aubrey looked down at her hands picking at the blanket on my bed. Whens he coming home? she asked. My heart stopped. Im sorry for the clich, but there it is. Right up in my throat, too. Another clich. I think I can honestly say, that apart from the soldier handing me the American flag at my husbands military funeral, that this was the worst moment Id experienced since Rob died. Oh honey, I said, pulling her into my bed and arms. Hes not coming home. Blam. My body just crumpled at the base of a brick wall. After Id gotten her back to bed, I cried myself to sleep. On Valentines Day when every other lover was having dinner with their sweethearts, eating chocolate and pressing flowers into each others hands. Eighteen months had passed since Rob had died. I had been dating for about five or six of the last ones and had really felt like I was past the grieving stage. I thought I was cured. Life went on and so did I, right?
I was looking for a new partner and parenting my two exquisite children but occasionally days or nights like these would set me back. Id feel like I had to start grieving all over from the beginning and the exhaustion that that thought lowered on me would send me to bed for as long as my infant and toddler would let me. And then things would get better again. Im sorry to say that it took me about four years to finally realize that my grief would come and go and that that was ok. Like the yoga, I needed to just show up and accept where my heart and emotions were that day. No fighting it; no raging that Id just been fine yesterday. I accept where I am and what comes up for me, no matter what I experience on any given day. Ive stopped calling them bad days. They are just grieving days. And thats ok. Its better than ok, actually. Its loving. Its self-compassionate.