I learned that I needed to mourn because I got tired of carrying around grief that I pretended did not exist. I learned how to mourn after I realized that I didn’t have practices to help honor the grief that I experienced and that I carried with me. I have learned to mourn non-events (i.e., anticipated life events that don’t come to pass), injustices (e.g., the way -isms impact communities), and loss (e.g., death, ending relationships, implications of non-events and injustices, etc.). Learning to mourn and allowing myself the space and time to honor my grief have been powerful lessons in being more human, living more authentically, and knowing myself and others more deeply.
I’m a joyful person by temperament, faith, and practice. Part of the reason why I am able to feel joy and be joyous so deeply is my ability to feel sorrow and be sorrowful so deeply. The two balance out the ups and downs of life and shape how we experience the other. I can still have joy as I mourn and I can recognize the absence of mourning as I bask in joy. They’re not mutually exclusive. In mourning, we recognize loss and that the loss requires something beyond mere sadness to reconcile the absence of what is missing (ex. failed expectations, people, lost opportunities, etc.).
Choosing to mourn isn’t necessarily the “cool” thing to do, but it’s a just thing to do. Mourning and being around people who are in mourning might be off putting for some folks, and I find that the “rut-ro” feelings or ideologies associated with the disdain some folks have for mourners/mourning are rooted in the discomfort of being or unwillingness to be that vulnerable with themselves (or others) about loss. Others may shun or turn away from mourning because they’ve never had the luxury or opportunity to mourn. I offer that when we deny the diversity of our experiences, grieving included, we deny our own truth(s) and limit a certain fullness to our living. We are worthy of honoring our truths, no matter how unhappy those are or how unwilling others are to legitimize or recognize our truths.
Mourning looks like/has looked like journaling, intentional action with my body (movement, stillness, and rest), having loved ones bear witness to my grief so that it’s not trapped in darkness, and other actions that help me articulate and express the grief. In supporting those who grieve around me, support has looked like being present with them for the purpose of them not being alone (when they don’t want to be alone), bearing witness to their pain, and offering to aid them in tangible ways that free up their energy (physical and emotional) to mourn.
Mourning is therapeutic for me. It’s part of my healing process. When I fail to mourn, I fail to keep my life moving and fail to keep myself honest. I mourn because for centuries, my people haven’t been allowed to mourn because our losses weren’t “legitimate”. I mourn because I’m human and it keeps me honest. I mourn as a practice of faith. As we move along in life, celebrating the highs and being free in our joys (regardless of size), I encourage us all to tune into the loss(es) in our lives and develop/continue practices that help us to round out the fullness of our humanity.
May our mourning bring us greater joy. May our recognition of our fullness lead us to practices that honor the totality of life, including grief. May we grieve with those who grieve and rejoice with those who rejoice. May we remember that weeping may endure for a night (or a season), but joy comes in the morning/mourning. May our mourning be good after all. Asè. Amen.