“Allow yourself to be held by something greater.” - Matt Licata
A part of me is spiraling in grief. Inside, there is so much alarm as the losses continue to accrue; when will the next blow slam me? The next phone call letting me know someone else has died? Both of my parents have died in the last year. Both of them! And tonight, a new seemingly superficial loss: my iPhone, with all of their messages, has died too. Unrecoverable. A little bit of rain seeped under the case and evaporated those last vestiges of my parents into the same unreachable ethers of nothingness in which they now reside. I will never hear their voices again, saying my name the way only they ever said it. Death is forever, death is aloneness in an absolute way. This part of me, spiraling in grief, hears the echo of its own lone voice, in an empty, cavernous chamber and it’s so afraid, and so surprisingly ashamed too. I witness all of this and am struck repeatedly by the way shame infiltrates my terror and loss. Shame of all things! A sense of my own fault in the loss and in the aloneness, which compounds the overwhelming weight of this heavy, unremitting bad news.
I witness it.
There is an “I” separate from the "spiraling in grief" part.
"Spiraling in grief" is a part.
Who is the witness?
That’s me, my bigger Self.
And the spiraling in grief part is in so much pain, so much absolute and inescapable pain, it doesn’t want to play this game of life anymore, now that it sees the brutal truth. Alone, loss, at fault, to blame, alone.
It is unbearable.
And there is a new choice.
What if I believe in, rest in, invest in my bigger Self now? What if I relocate my attention to this witnessing presence and just behold my spiral of grief? Let its edges be felt. Let its hot tears come, and feel how I care, feel how I stay right here with my little, afraid/alone experience. I have been storing this up for so long, this belief that it’s my fault I’m alone; this belief that terror and its punishing spiral of loss are my due. It has been excruciating.
I hear it now. I see and feel - and hold - that part of me that spirals in grief. I do not become her. I hold her. I hold her against my big, soft, warm body, where she fits and is welcome to stay. I notice more about her, I take her in. She is so familiar...from many decades past, so small, her little bones holding this ancient, familial burden that was handed down to her. “I’m not safe. I’m alone. I don’t belong. Run!” This is what she’s been harboring. This is the center of her spiral of grief.
I feel the steadiness of my witnessing Self behind the quiver of my spiraling little one. The steadiness of my Self is rich and heavy like an old leather chair on a thick rug in a warm room in a cozy wood house perched on a vast, green hillside surrounded by endless blue, with occasional clouds decorating a sky that embraces everything.
I realize now, both from the spiraling grief part, and from the witnessing Self that holds her, that there is nothing “alone” about this.
Written by Jessica Sorci, LMFT, PMH-C