How curious observation opens the door to healingOct 07, 2022
Thinking of grieving as synonymous with learning can be beneficial. On day one of grad school, no one expects you to pass a comprehensive exam. Learning takes time and experience.
And if a grieving brain is simply learning to understand and navigate an unfamiliar world without your person’s physical presence, then that takes time and experience, too.
But here is where the analogy ends: it isn’t a pass or fail exercise.
Overachievers, take note: there’s no such thing as getting an A in grief.
There is no syllabus; there are no checklists, and no exams.
There is also no way to fail.
Grief isn’t pass or fail or black or white. It’s a million shades of gray in between. It’s messy and chaotic and largely misunderstood.
If you believe that you’re doing it wrong, failing or otherwise messing it up, your brain will seek further evidence to support that belief. So, when you find your missing keys in the pantry, your brain uses it to confirm that indeed, you’re failing.
But there is another option, which is to operate with a mindset of curious observation instead of judgement.
That would mean that you look around at the pile of laundry, dirty dishes, unopened mail, lengthy to-do list and unanswered voice messages and say to yourself, “This is what grief looks like; it is exactly this hard.”
Curious observation means that when your emotions unravel before 9 a.m., you say, “Okay, this is what we’ve got today.”
There are wins and challenges. There is shuffling forward and stumbling backward. It’s exactly this hard to learn to live in a world without your person’s physical presence. You’re neither getting an A nor flunking. You are operating in the shades of gray in between, and that’s okay.
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