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Grief Lifting, Shifting from Grief to Living

Missing you is a way of keeping you. If I didn’t miss you, how would I find you? Where will you be? How will I find my Self? Where am I? - I love you and I am lost.

Grief is a demanding and comforting companion. When we feel grief lifting, when we are shifting from grief to living, it can be a jarring thing to notice, even if we are feeling more self-like, lighter. It's another step of newness, its layer of loss that no one talks too much about. We're still recalibrating, tender, and don't want to "get it wrong" whatever that might mean to us individually. We're emerging from a deep inner space, almost like we're freshly hatched, looking around, and getting caught by surprise at moments of life. We wondered if we would ever be happy again, but now that we have a window, we may get pulled back in to our grief, spiraling, even for moments. There's more nuance to this...

light shining through tree branches

It’s a weird thing, almost as relieving as it is disorienting and disturbing, to recognize the moment we feel the grip of grief release. We become accustomed to it, like a companion who has a lot of opinions, braces and protect us, whispers in our heads where to go, how to respond, what to eat, when to sleep, what we're ready for. The presence of grief can become so familiar, as much as the grief itself. And then...we may almost accidentally notice the grief lifting, shifting from grief to living, we might have more room for our own navigations on when we sleep, what we eat, what feels like a good idea, who we talk to, when we smile. Is the sadness gone? No, not really. It perhaps is never truly gone. But there is also a pivotal moment of noticing that density of grief lifting. There is a bit more joy that shows itself, a little more sparkle, tears flow less easily, less numb - whatever it has been, something more stable appears. And it can feel disarming, strange. We are shifting from grief to living. Something within, maybe mysterious, chemical, spiritual, emotional, and out of conscious reach, has made a decision, and we are becoming aware of it. We are being asked to accept the invitation.

It is this new stability that feels a little like a free-fall, ironically, when we notice it's there. In our deep grief, we may have wondered if we would ever feel happy again, or if things would ever be normal or if we were lost to this grief and changed too much. Now, this real possibility is peeking through, where we find ourselves in that between space, of grief and free-er living, and it can be tough to let go into it. We may find air in everyday conversations or what we are reading, watching, places we go in that they don’t always lead back to our lost one in our thoughts or words. Calendar dates become less intense or dreaded, and we may find a rest or grounding in the reflections they provide, or the date slips by entirely! Our thoughts and feelings of them become more chosen or private. We are part of what's going on instead of as distracted, checked out of it. We are not avoiding things as much but find ourselves more engaged, curious, lighter, and the constant comparing and reminiscing subsides. A longing or even combativeness as we rebel against life itself, dissipates and is filled in with... something... else... Yet, at times, when we catch this open air happening, in even a few of these ways, we are almost habituated to want to rebound and feel grief, like it is its own remnant of them, or a duty. We may walk a line that is as confusing as it is relieving.

As these shifts happen, it is ok if it is not completely a relief, if pops of resistance show up. We may wonder if we’re doing something wrong or disloyal by going on without them, if we’re not upholding a responsibility to keep them present, or if we can trust it, if our sorrow is waiting under the bed or around a dark corner ready to spring out. We may feel concerned we’re forgetting something important, like a laugh, a way they move, what they might say, how they do things, feel, smell… that they’re slipping away, like we’re losing them again more softly. You know those moments, when we move their belongings, close their accounts. Each step can feel like this in a tangible way. My brother said he felt like we were "erasing Dad" when we took each step with his belongings and accounts. We’re so used to feeling it, it’s unfamiliar to be without it. Grief can evolve into a trusted friend who understands and holds all of our unspoken desires, fears, mixed emotions, especially if it is a complex or socially discarded grief or one we are carrying alone. The grief becomes our companion.

The soft shift is palpable, and we are not familiar with what is now there, or on the other side. It may even feel too spacious if we have been very inside our grief. Something within us, or that we are mysteriously connected with, is extending an invitation to remember that it is ok to be HERE, in this moment, this life, this world, to be more present and available in these living relationships and joys we have and are yet to encounter. The invitation also reminds us, shows us, if we allow, that we may still have our loved one with us as we integrate them as a part of life, a part of us, evolving as the relationship between us did in our lives.

When we notice this shift, we have a choice to follow the shift or to follow the pain. This is a very pivotal time in our lives. We can learn to ask, "Who are we together now?" We can recognize that we are ready to find out because the mysterious process of grief has allowed this door to open. This is a gentle invitation. If we feel caught in the free-fall, we can remind ourselves we are ready for next steps, to experience them and ourselves in a new way.

  • Why were they so significant, meaningful to me?

  • How am I more for knowing them?

  • Who am I now?

And choose to integrate these answers gently when you feel stuck on the line between grieving and living.

Remember, this shift is not a signal that we’re moving on, leaving them behind. This is thinking born of anxiety and familiarity with living in pain. Noticing this shift is recognizing that we’re integrating them, that this worthy companion of grief has done its job insulating us from what was too much while we healed a deep brokenness, and THIS is what is moving on. We can marvel at the design of our mind, body, spirit selves and the mysterious way it works, leaning into what is already happening within, thanking ourselves for this inner wisdom.

In continuing to support ourselves in becoming more at ease with this shift, we can
  • lean in to awe which can be simplified to noticing the extraordinary in the ordinary

  • mindfulness, which is expanding awareness like reflecting on the natural cycles of healing and growth of all sorts, for example reflecting on the protections grief provides in spirit for healing and growth much like a broken bone, or a womb does their work, or find examples in trees, light, other animals

  • trusting the path already traveled, will continue to guide forward.

  • seeking relatable poetry, art, music, or even spiritual teachings from a variety of practices. For example, the Kabbalah teachings in the book of Zorah, speaks of Water in its grief and suffering as it longs to be reconnected with itself in the heavens. Be they Pagan, Stoic, Abrahamic, Eastern, or others, this is a shared, natural process and there will be plenty to be curious about.

  • trying something new or creating a basic routine, whichever you feel inclined to and be willing to shift when it feels time to try something new - keep current with yourself

We can also buck against it the shift, but we are missing the invitation to embrace life and ripple well into the lives of others if we do. We have choices.

Grief is its own cycle of nature, that we are part of. That’s the way the shift works, how it came to be at all. We love, we break, we heal, we grow, we love. Out and In and Out again. There is a pattern you can see in everything in its own but relatable language. When we happen to notice what is already happening, we can step into it by bringing some gentle awareness, some stillness, giving permission to notice and be in wonder, curiosity, even joy to the process of inner wisdoms. We can view it as an invitation and actively accept it, trusting tenderly as our readiness reveals itself, and we find who we are now. There's no going back to any way we were before. We know we are not as we were. We go forward. We include a wider range of emotions and experiences, movement and learning that becomes part of all our decisions and relationships; joy, sadness, anger, frustration, silliness, contentment, connection.

If we lean in, allow, ask, step, we find ourselves more than for knowing them. We can choose also to shrink and buck the natural order, but there is a risk in denying our own inner wisdom and the natural cycles of life. We are not meant to become less than for having lost them. Let love lead.

There are many options for support online, phone lines, in person, groups, local libraries, free or for fee, covered by plans, you name it. There is no need to be alone with your grief path. Contact me if you feel I can be of help to you in this time.


Always in kindness,


Two poems for you:

Holding and Not Holding


Who am I now, without you?

as I assemble my parts of life.

This part that sleeps without you

How do I now sleep?

This part that eats without you

How do I now eat?

This part that walks the wooded path

we loved together… without you.

How do I now walk?

Who am I now, as I assemble my parts,

holding and not holding

the piece that is you,

that is also me?

Who am I now, with you?

as I assemble my parts of life.

The Thing Is


to love life, to love it even

when you have no stomach for it

and everything you’ve held dear

crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,

your throat filled with the silt of it.

When grief sits with you, its tropical heat

thickening the air, heavy as water

more fit for gills than lungs;

when grief weights you down like your own flesh

only more of it, an obesity of grief,

you think, How can a body withstand this?

Then you hold life like a face

between your palms, a plain face,

no charming smile, no violet eyes,

and you say, yes, I will take you

I will love you, again.


May all beings be in peace.

Ama la vita d’altro,

Begin Peace logo with acorn and enso

Birdi Sinclair Signature gold with heart flourish

Rev. Dr. Birdi Sinclair

Interfaith Spiritual Guide,

Grief Specialist

“Begin Peace now. Each now is new.”

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Please accept my invitation to sign up for Peace Notes, a periodic note from me to you with messages, maybe a poem, even a recipe, and some simple happenings. Receive a gift, Be not Do, to help your self care and tune in with Who am I now?

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