or how allowing your grief can get you through
There is a Palace that opens only to tears – The Zohar
I want to get really honest about grief, about what I call The Weeping. I have been in the closet about it for many years, only ever being half honest about how important the release of grief is. I was reminded once and for all last weekend at Sobonfu Some’s Grief Ritual.
It was clean. It was raw. It was real. It was all out miraculous for one who has harbored snippets of release behind closed doors. This was a group of everyday Americans come together for a grief ceremony that promised to help them release their grief and be freed from it.
It started slowly, but honestly and built quickly over the first 12 hours or so until about 18 hours in the drums and singing started their refrain, their reassuring and enveloping chant, and, well, the uptight Americans started melting into one or many of the griefs they carry. There were tears, moaning, rage. Really, description is futile, as using words to describe the smell of Jasmine.
I can say, it was utterly arresting and life changing, soul restoring and sanctity building. Sobonfu tells us that in Africa, grieving goes on almost perpetually from village to village. If you need to grieve, you needn’t wait, just catch the ritual in a neighboring village. She says that those who do not grieve end up misdirecting their grief onto others. Tears are the cleansing waters that restore sanctity to our souls. Without the flow of tears each and every one of us risks alienation, indifference, aggression and apathy.
In Africa, you never ask if one has finished grieving, but rather if one needs to grieve. Like asking yourself if you need to eat, or bathe, or clean-up the house. What might life be like if we regularly asked ourselves and each other, “Do I (you) need to grieve?” and we knew our need to grieve would be met, not with disdain and avoidance, but with open armed support and assistance, sincere acceptance and even gratitude.
According to Sobonfu, grief is not personal, but communal. When we allow for grieving we create healthy vibrant and free communities. I, for one, felt a deep sense of relief and joy as a result of my participation in the Grief Ritual. It was as if I were a child being held after a fall while the tears flow and flow.
And then just as suddenly as a tumble down the stairs resolves the tears subside and there is a clearing, a clarity, a calm. There is a place to come from, to rest in and to trust.
Welcome to the Palace of Weeping.