A Good Grief

All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them.  Karen Blixen

Dana King shared with me a story about Molly Jackson, a young mother who, after losing her 2 year-old daughter, has found healing through her blog A Good Grief.

Ms. Jackson writes “I remember thinking there is no way I would ever be able to move past the pain, that I would never find joy again. But I have.  Grief at losing a loved one isn't something you really overcome… but what you overcome is the deep feeling of self-pity and utter loss, the desire to ‘give in' so that you can again live with hope.”

Goodgrief

Psychologists have indicated that we can only overcome trauma when we talk about it to someone who can bear witness to our loss.  Whether we've lost a loved one, or simply traveled a boulevard of broken dreams, each of us has or will experience some seemingly unendurable loss.

A wonderful example of bearing witness has occurred over the past few weeks with a group of friends I'm interacting with online.  Each day one of the participants (some of us know each other, some don't) poses a question to which we have the opportunity to respond.  The questions range from ‘What is your most memorable meal?” to “What would you regret twenty years from now if you didn't do it today?” to “What do you do when a loved one takes their life?” and “What do you daydream about?”  In answering these questions and telling our stories, we are making discoveries about ourselves.  As we have listened, there seems to be healing.

When you and I are in a place of loss, we don't dream — because we can't.  If we are in that place, then let us grieve, give voice to the trauma.  Our loss will gradually give way to hope, to our dreams.

For what is dreaming if not hope manifest?

Celebrating Our Woman-ness

I wonder if you will see these two poems in opposition to one another, or as two sides of the same coin.

After you read them, will you share your thoughts?

***

The final (and my favorite) song in Macy Robison's cabaret-style recital Children Will Listen is The Story Goes On by Maltby and Shire.  Her rendition gives utterance to the raw joy that I felt as I welcomed children into my world.

So this is the tale my mother told me
That tale that was much to dull to hold me
And this is the surge and the rush she said would show
our story goes on.

Oh, I was young
I forgot that things outlive me.
My goal was the kick that life would give me
And now, like a joke,
something moves to let me know
our story goes on.

And all these things I feel and more,
my mother's mother felt, and hers before
A chain of life begun upon the shore of some dark sea
has reached to me.

Newborn baby

Source:  istockphoto

And now I can see the chain extending
My child is next in a line that has no ending
And here am I full of life
that her child will feel when I'm long gone
And thus it is
our story goes on.

***

Earlier this year, Janna Taylor shared Mary Oliver's poem The Journey with mereminding me that in the midst of caring and connecting — and especially mothering — it's important to care for and connect to ourselves.

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

Starrynight

Source:  istockphoto

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

***

The article 5 Scientific Reasons Mom Deserves Mother's Day is both interesting and affirming.  Is it affirming in part because it was written by a male scientist? (Thanks to @guykawasaki for flagging).

What do you think?  And how do you feel?

Are women both/and?  Or either/or?

Like Flowers in Springtime

Last fall I took a hiatus from blogging.

There were a number of reasons that played into this decision.  One of them, which I didn't recognize at the time, had to do with the days getting shorter, the weather colder.

At night we sleep, and in that sleeping there is resolution and renewal, both physically and psychologically.

In the winter, we do something similar.

FirstFlowers

Source:  istockphoto

But because we can't fully hibernate, living off our mental and physical reserves the way animals can, there needs to be some activity.  Activity in which we tend to and care for ourselves.

We each tend to our selves differently.  The how isn't important.

What matters is that we do.

And when we do, and the long winter is over, we will again burst forth with life.

Like flowers in springtime.

What are some of the things that you are doing to nurture yourself this winter?

About the Atta Girl…

I did not lose myself all at once. I rubbed out my face over the years…the same way carvings on stone are worn down by water.  – Amy Tan

We needn't look far to observe that most very young girls have a strong sense of self or ‘I'dentity — they are connected not just to the world, but to themselves. My friend Rebecca has a daughter who brims with a sense of self; perhaps that's why I find her so winning.

And why too I can't pull myself away from this Minerva Teichert painting.

In their jubilant dancing, I see ‘I'dentity bursting forth from women who are connected to themselves.

Teichert Love Story

So many of the women that I know work tirelessly to connect to and care for others, to nurture and foster the ‘I'dentity of husbands, boyfriends, children, parents, siblings, friends, co-workers, community.  We do so, in large measure, because of our deep connection to and love for God.

I've observed, however, that we struggle to connect to ourselves.  I think we knew how to at some point, but have forgotten.

The ‘Atta Girl' is meant to help us to remember.

I do what I do each day because of who I am.  Because the good that I do is often difficult to recognize, and to name, it is sometimes hard for others, and even for me, to value my contribution.  As such, there is a grace and elegance to what I do and who I am which is, in fact, changing the world.

Or, in the words of Albert Einstein, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

If you are still scratching your head about my reasoning behind the “Atta G'I'rl,” you may want to check out the below posts:

 

Throw Down Your Pom-Poms and Get in the Game

 

Martha and Mary

Identity Crisis

Thank Heaven for Little Rachels

When Our Loved Ones Ask, ‘What About Me?'

Valuing What Women Do

Looking for the ‘I' in the Twilight Series


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