Gateways to Grief
In his book “The Wild Edge of Sorrow”, Frances Weller helpfully named five “Gateways to Grief”. Rather than limiting or attempting to define what we might grieve for, the intention is to open us to recognise and honour a wide view of what brings grief. In no particular order, this is what he called them. I’ve added a sixth.
- Sorrows of the world – our natural suffering when we see the suffering of others, the destruction of nature and beauty, when our hopes for future generations are dented or broken.
- Places which have not known love – the places in us which need loving attention, past hurts, traumas or abuse.
- Ancestral trauma – what comes down to us from previous generations, unhealed trauma, shame, patterns of violence, avoidance and more.
- Everything we love we will lose – people, relationships, identity, health, roles, pets, even life itself.. the nature of life is that we lose all of these – sometimes to make space for something new, and sometimes with the finality of ageing or death.
- What we expected on arrival and did not receive – loving holding, an vibrant community of adults that know how to make peace and support the next generation, a world that sees and welcomes us.. many of us carry deep longings that modern society fails to meet – and has no way of acknowledging.
- The harm we’ve caused – acknowledging that we are not just on the receiving end of hurt but also the cause of it helps us to take responsibility and ensure we don’t get stuck in a position of being a victim. Sometimes we need to understand how we’ve hurt ourselves. Sometimes it’s harm to other people. It could be the harm to the natural world through inevitably being part of a destructive consumerist society. When we feel our own pain at the harm we have caused, perhaps we can move towards forgiving ourselves, releasing some of the self judgement that many of us carry.