Caregivers can only offer others what they offer to themselves. Without this intimate clarity of self-awareness, we exhaust ourselves by imagining another’s pain and offering inauthentic responses. We risk being vehicles of pity rather than compassion.
Grief is a universal experience, one that we need to know personally. Grief circles us all like planets orbiting the gravity of our suffering. No one is spared. Steven Levine wrote, ‘If sequestered pain made a sound, the world would be humming all the time.’ We can only hear and address the humming of our patients’ sequestered grief if we’re willing to hear our own. If we’re deaf to ours, we’re deaf to theirs.
I’d like to share five gates into our own grief so that we’re able to recognize and transform this most human experience. These gates are drawn from Francis Weller’s book The Wild Edge of Sorrow and modified based upon my own experience.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.