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The Rope Swing

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

Those of us that have experienced the death of someone whom we love often find ourselves suspended between two forms of living, the pain of grief and the numbness of grief.

In the pain of grief, we are familiar with the ache of loss. We feel the excruciating absence down to our very bones. The longing follows us into our nightly routines. The agony is etched on our faces. We see it, feel it and live it.

The numbness of grief ushers us into days of mere existing. We feel nothing. Decisions are made without thought or motivation. The dark bedroom absorbs us, closed blinds shut out the world. We let life go on and choose not to live it.

Those are the extremes and we cling to the rope that keeps swinging from one extreme to the other. We want to live somewhere in the middle, where it is safe to let go of the rope and dwell on solid ground instead of the constant swinging back and forth.

Marianne Williamson says it beautifully. “In avoiding our sadness, we avoid our lives. Learning from our sadness can bear great fruit, and avoiding it can have hidden costs. Our choice is between feeling the sharp pains of self-discovery or enduring the dull ache of unconsciousness that will last for the rest of our lives.”

We have a choice in how we are going to live with grief in our lives. We can learn and grow and thrive or we can exist in the fog of unconsciousness and endure an unlived life.

Living life while living with grief will be challenging and rewarding, confusing and purposeful. While navigating grief we will experience and learn things about ourselves we never thought possible. Will it be scary and intimidating? Absolutely. However, we will find our niche; we will discover ourselves and we will redefine ourselves. We will once again live our lives.

Where is the solid ground? How do we stop clinging to the rope that swings from one extreme to the other as if that was our only choice? We find that solid ground by mindfully living our grief and engaging in self-discovery.

We let go of the rope we cling to and embrace grace and gentleness. We do this by honoring our grief. We realize we will have days of pain and numbness, both, and we stop pretending they don’t exist. We live the grief in all of its messiness. Next, we give ourselves permission to feel our grief. We feel what it is doing in our bodies instead of ignoring the sensations. Then, we release the notion of perfection. Grief doesn’t fit a linear timeline. It doesn’t happen in stages or phases. There is no endpoint to let us know we are finished with it. Grief has no rules. We don’t need to worry about “doing it right”. Finally, we have to let go of a time limit. There is no time frame for grief. We give ourselves all the time we need to process, acknowledge and acclimate. We give ourselves time to adapt to, adjust to and accept our different life. Grief takes a long time to assimilate it into our lives and become comfortable with it. Being gentle with ourselves and giving ourselves the grace to live grief will help us feel that we are not swinging from one extreme to the other.

We will have days when we feel like we are grasping the rope and hanging over the extreme. It’s okay. We need those days when the pain is great and we are consumed by it. We need those days when being consumed in darkness is all we can offer ourselves. We will be gentle with ourselves and live those days too. Remember, grief doesn’t fit a pattern and we will not swing back and forth forever. The days in between are when we are able to let go of the rope, with feet on solid ground, look at our lives and realize that we are adjusting to Grief In Life.


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