A while back, I watched the movie Collateral Beauty. It was a beautiful tale about a man fallen to pieces over the death of his daughter and how his community showed up to support him. Like most things that strike a chord, the movie’s message continued to resonate and ripple through my days.
Collateral Beauty, for those looking for a quick definition, is the beauty that takes place as almost a side effect from a specific event. Conventionally, we see this mostly when tragedy strikes like volunteers rushing to fallen buildings, or as a movement like the ALS water bucket challenge.
But, I would like you to consider how much deeper this is. It’s the small moments that we tend to not notice when we are too caught up in our own sh#t. The best example I can conjure is the beautiful sounds of laughter between reunited friends at a funeral.
This is where we tend to split into two camps. There are those of us that can’t hear laughter at a funeral because we are caught up in our own feelings and there are those of us who are using humour despite all of our feelings. Would both of these actions be considered grieving and if yes, how then can we redefine grief to encapsulate all that death inspires?
I would like you to consider that grief is not an emotion but is a role that becomes part of who we are. Just like being a caregiver or a partner we are also grievers. It becomes part of our person, our responsibility. We are responsible to honour our grief, just like we are responsible for our children or marriage. It becomes ours to nuture, appreciate and hold sacred. And yes, that comes with the burden of sadness, broken-heartedness, and despair, but it also comes in those moments or pauses when we stop for a particular sunset or we hear a familiar laugh.
It is here, in these memorable pauses, that grief shows up as love. A love that keeps those wonderful people alive in us, and a love for the person we are because of them. This love exists because of them; despite the fact that they are no longer walking on this earth. Some would define this as unconditional love. And if we consider that true – then it is in death, we can learn how to love unconditionally.
So then, what do we make of grief? I believe, grief should be our expression of this unconditional love. It should include the long list of emotions that roll up into that word. That we are sad and broken-hearted but we are also grateful, stronger, and different. That just like being a parent or a partner, grief teaches us love. A love that exists not because of here and now but continues on even though we do not.
This eternal love, or grief, is traditionally expressed in many different ways around the world. In North American, we tend to try and hide our grief in an effort to move on or get over it. What if, we honoured this unconditional love or grief, just like we would a marriage or newborn child. We held space for this new responsibility, we taught our children the importance of grief’s role in unconditional love, that we took the door off its hinges and let it be part of who we are? What would be the ripple effect of this?
I see a world where death was honoured as a beautiful moment to be grateful for everything we have, an offering for open recognition of the things we will do better, and an amazing union of wonderful endings and great beginnings. A time where we could bring our children together and remind each other of where we came from. To honour all that is carried forward through this type of love.