Grief is Okay
Those who bind to themselves a joy
Do the winged life destroy
But they who kiss the joy as it flies
Live in eternity's sunrise. - William Blake
These words were uttered over the grave of Exodor, my beautiful parrot companion of 23 years. The sun has just set over the mountains and the sky was turning towards rosy hues of grandeur. It was as if the whole universe was kissing this bird's life goodbye.
Though I have been a grief counselor, have taught grief education courses, and perform memorial services for all species, Exodor's death reminded me that with every loss, each of us becomes a novice. For we relearn that not only is grief unique for each of us and for each kind of loss, but that no matter our preparation, grief is not something to enter into lightly. Instead it must be entered into fully so that we may know the depths of life through knowing the depths of death.
If hope is the thing with feathers that perches in our souls, then grief forms the liberating wings of awareness that gives flight to joy. For true grieving is not all sorrow, tears, depression, and heart wrenching pain, but it is also growing in awareness that life is a treasure beyond our daily comprehension. Grief allows us to wake up. Through the process of joyful remembrances and celebrations in juxtaposition with the pangs of loss, we give ourselves not just outward courage so that we may dare to face death and loss, but inward courage so that we may dare to face life. In so doing we live in an eternal possibility of joy and peace.
May you so find this joy and peace in your time with us or in your own time to come.
~Rev. LoraKim Joyner, D.V.M.