“We held it together for the funeral … and then, when everything was done … I entered the tomb.”
Grief is a primary human emotion, and grieving an essential process. It is more obvious at the death of a loved one, but the grief response is not limited to the obvious.
When a heatwave causes the death of an estimated 1 billion creatures in the Salish Sea, or when fire tears through millions of hectares of trees, the natural response is grief. Because a part of us knows that our connection to those beings is closer than we might think. Eco grief is the term for the human response to the sixth great extinction that is unfolding.
Many of us are not given the vocabulary or the practices of grieving. Men in this culture in particular are frequently socialized not to make themselves available to their grief. And in the fast-paced world in which we live, who has time to stop life long enough to “enter the tomb” every time word comes of another tragedy?
And so the grief collects, layer after layer, like sedimentary rock. And we medicate against it with food or shopping or entertainment or anger or denial.
But the soul and the body know. They can be ignored for a while, but they cannot lie.
Can we be soft enough with ourselves and compassionate enough with one another to “hold it together” when circumstances demand it, and know that that is what we’re doing?
And then, can we “enter the tomb” for a while? Not because we’re weak, but because we’re wise enough to know that this is the only way to survive with our humanity intact?
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