Grief as an Act of Protest

“Grief undermines the quiet agreement to behave and be in control of our emotions. It is an act of protest that declares our refusal to live numb and small. There is something feral about grief, something essentially outside the ordained and the sanctioned behaviours of our culture. Because of that, grief is necessary to the vitality of the soul. Contrary to our fears, grief is suffused with life force… It is not a state of deadness or emotional flatness. Grief is alive, wild, untamed and cannot be domesticated… It is truly an emotion that rises from the soul.”
-Francis Weller


In his resonant and challenging description of grief, psychotherapist and author Francis Weller declares that grief is “necessary to the vitality of the soul” because it is “untamed and cannot be domesticated.” I think that’s why grief scares us so much, and why we create “rules” for its expression, and diagnoses for when we think it has run amok. In acknowledging the predominant and unspoken agreement to be emotionally restrained, even numb, when it comes to mourning, Weller asserts that embracing our grief openly is tantamount to cultural rebellion! It certainly feels that way to me, and continuing to grieve for Kissie past some socially approved expiration date, is not only my act of personal protest, but truly a kind of sustenance for my psyche that is, as Weller put it, “suffused with life force.”  I’ve never heard anyone refer to grief as a life-giving emotion, and what a relief to know I’m not alone in this experience. In shunning our grief, we are inadvertently thwarting our essential capacities for passion, vigor, and the love of life.

 

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