Are We Willing to Grieve?

 There is no grief like the grief that does not speak.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When life comes unglued as it has for some of us throughout our lives, for others of us in recent years, and for almost everyone during this pandemic, have we taken the time to grieve? Have we genuinely grieved all the loss of what once was, who used to be in our lives, the pets we loved and lost, the jobs that came and went, the ties between people —even family that came unraveled at the end of a day, a divorce, a child’s death?

As someone focused on all flavors of positivity including speaking affirmations, rebooting, reclaiming, rising, creating, living in gratitude, and streaming “The Sound of Music” straight into my heart, I notice that grieving becomes silent crying in the middle of the night, muffled sobs into a tear-soaked pillow, or hot tears rolling down the sides of my face and puddling in my ears as I meditate. Usually not wanting to disturb anyone with my mourning, I’ve struggled with needing to hide my grief. Over the years I have consistently failed at this.

Grief shows up in unexpected moments. Grief does not care who, what, where, why, or how.

Feeling ashamed for experiencing sadness seems absurd and yet, shaming people for expressing feelings that then sends those emotions underground, maybe into an internal frozen food locker seems to be the practice of many human beings. “Get in the Driver’s Seat” or “Suck it Up!” or “Stifle Yourself” becomes a form of suppression or even oppression. We begin to look inhumane, void of compassion or empathy, protected, steeled, armored.

Like me, I imagine many of you have been trained in the limiting beliefs that tears are for babies, that crying must never be done in public, that a stoic face is a protection, that holding it together looks much better than falling apart with sobs, wails, snot running, and tears streaming. We even began calling this the “ugly cry.” Are we supposed to look beautiful when we cry? When did doing something completely human and humane become “ugly”? Aren’t tears or ways that we grieve a part of being a human being?  What if grieving was a way to flow through emotions -which I learned several years ago-are E=energy in M=motion?

How and when will we grieve the death of our neighbors and fellow citizens who have lost their lives? When will we grieve our global neighbors’ deaths? If we say and believe we value human life, that life is precious, then are we capable of collectively grieving the loss of life from sickness, violence, natural disasters, genocide, wars, and systemic oppression?

Some people have yet to grieve the loss of beloved ones, their pets, or their flooded or burned to the ground homes.

Anger only masks hurt and grief. Often anger exists as a blustery, fiery cover-up of traumatic loss, abandonment, and/or betrayals that are all wounds that hurt, that eventually must be grieved if we want to be emotionally, mentally, physically healthy.

Grief remains interconnected with what we have attached to, what and who we value and cherish deeply. That’s why I often describe the experience as grieflove. We rarely grieve something to which we are not attached. Haven’t we formed meaningful bonds based in love, respect, appreciation, compassion, gratitude, affection, and intimacy? If so, then grieving the loss, the disappearance of these attachments, preferences, meaningful activities, and beautiful souls, who have enriched our lives in countless ways, becomes imperative.

We must grieve because we love. The greater our grief the deeper our love. We need to grieve because this acknowledges the depth and breadth of our love, of our ability to form heart-centered, soul-nourishing relationships with people, sentient beings, our natural world, and the wholeness of life itself.

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Laura Staley
Laura Staleyhttp://www.cherishyourworld.com
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately helps people thrive by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, mind, body, and soul. Laura knows that there’s a relationship between the conditions of our homes or workplaces and the quality of our lives. Trained and certified with the Western School of Feng Shui and seasoned by almost two decades of working with a variety of clients, Laura uses her intuition and expertise to empower her clients to produce remarkable results in their lives. Her trifecta of serving people includes speaking, writing, and compassionate listening. As a columnist, Laura writes personal essays focused on self-discovery, feng shui, emotional health, and transformations from the inside out. Laura is the published author of three books: Live Inspired, Let Go Courageously and Live with Love: Transform Your Life with Feng Shui, and the Cherish Your World Gift Book of 100 Tips to Enhance Your Home and Life. Prior to creating her company, Laura worked as a fulltime parent and an assistant professor at Ohio Wesleyan University. She earned a Ph.D. in political science from The Ohio State University. Her joys in life include laughing with loved ones, dancing, reading, meditating, running, being in nature, and listening to music she loves. She resides in Black Mountain, NC with lovable dog, Layla. Laura is a contributing author to the inspiring book Crappy to Happy: Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy


  1. Oh Laura, you have put in words what I’ve held pent-up in my heart for these last months…. I think I’ve been wandering around my life numbed out, the grief there but unattainable. I sometimes wish I could crack my heart wide open and let the grief pour out to relieve the pressure….

    • Oh, I know exactly what you’re describing, Kimberly. I finally have done just that-cracked my heart open and now it won’t ever close-In the space of losing my dog, which felt like the last heavy blanket (not a straw on the camel’s back –not at all) or a huge ocean wave that pulled me into the undertow. I now finally am deeply grieving the loss of both my parents, my dog, Layla, in ways that will leave me with radical empathy, radical compassion, and unshakeable, enduring appreciation for the precious gift of life. I notice that grieving takes so much courage-to actually Feel All of It. Am working on another essay that includes a bit of that All of It… So many hugs to you, my friend. I appreciate your support for my writing-I appreciate your amazing mind and good heart. Thank you for being you.

  2. Oh, Paula, your words feel like a balm to me. We seem to be surfing in the same ocean -or at least the waves are there! I value all you’ve added here including “Grieve away the pain and allow the love to remain.” Oh, so beautiful. I also appreciate this perspective: “Healing is not always finding a cure, it is just allowing us to better endure.” Oh, for some reason that resonates with me-I think there’s something about the multidimensional nature of grieving a complicated, difficult relationship with someone close to you–for instance, I think there might always be the young ones inside me that grieve not having the kind of mother that other kids got to experience-or that I could not ever become the girl, woman that she could then love, cherish, and accept. I don’t think that ever really goes away-it’s such a primal relationship-the one we have with a parent-even if that parent was quite ill in mind/soul/heart… Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you’ve shared here. It’s like you peered into my heart and began whispering kindnesses that deeply resonate with my particular life journey. Within a year I lost my dad, mother, and my dog, Layla. On the one hand, doesn’t seem like a big deal. From another perspective-there’s a great deal to unpack in all that loss that came in a condensed time frame-like a series of crashing waves….Many, so many hugs to you, my friend.

  3. Laura, we talked about the grieving process. You can try to avoid it, but the avoidance just prolongs the pain. Be it death or divorce or another trauma, grief allows us to pick up the pieces and start moving forward. Better times and better people will come into our lives.

    • Frank, Yes, indeed we did discuss the grieving process-how important to engage with our grief in healthy ways, then to create space for as you state it “better times and better people will come into our lives.” Yes, indeed. This is especially true for those of us who needed to resolve traumas, break trauma bonds, and grieve what did not ever meet our preferences or expectations. Thank you so much for your thoughtful reflections, the insights you’ve contributed to this discussion.

  4. My beautiful soul sister… you are truly a champ for the human spirit.
    Through your own grief you reveal the value of its necessity.
    This resonates deep in me as the absence of grief is what prevents the healing.
    If we can’t release we will not nourish it seems.
    I have written on tears, crying, and yes grief too. There is no shame to this and it is only human to feel a loss, it is also human…to see the gain from what you had. Grief allows healing. Healing is not always finding a cure, it is just allowing us to better endure

    As you say here..
    “We must grieve because we love. The greater our grief the deeper our love.”
    I have viewed as …the deeper we love, the greater the grief… I like both view here.
    (Funny how we are granted bereavement days according to the legal relationship…and that’s not always the case either)

    We learn to love and what I have realized to is that by grieving… the love remains..that stays in your heart forever.
    So “Grieve away the pain and allow the love to remain” My dear sweet friend.
    Hugs to you Laura❤️ Thank you for this beautiful composition!