Grieving reminds us of the preciousness of life, it helps us integrate loss, and it opens us to deeper compassion, inspiration, and joy. We need to create space in our lives to grieve fully. Author and psychotherapist Francis Weller believes that we each carry a heavy load of grief. In his interview in the Oct. 2105 issue of The Sun (The Geography of Sorrow) he explains that through most of human history grieving was communal. There were songs and rituals to support people to grieve and let the energy of grief move through. Without communal rituals or some kind of support for grief, we are left to hold onto our grief and carry it with us, accumulating more and more as we encounter the inevitable losses and painful events in life. Along with the loss of rituals for communal grieving, many of us learned, in various ways, that grief is sign of weakness, or something to fear, bury away, fight against. The approach to grief modeled for us was to cover grief with greater strength, productivity, positivity, and success. The energy of emotion does not get cleared by covering it up; rather, it moves and clears by being embraced consciously and with compassion. Some people go to extraordinary lengths to bury their grief and convince themselves that they’ve dealt with it. And, tragically, some people never get to grieve, and instead hold it in right to the end. Often, grief is held in because people are afraid that if they opened to their grief, they would get lost in it. This fear is completely understandable for those who haven’t experienced enough acceptance of or support for their grief. If you weren’t consistently and compassionately supported to grieve and instead learned that being ‘strong’ or ‘positive’ and ‘moving on’ was the answer to grief, then it’s likely that your implicit (subconscious) belief is that grief is something to fear. Children need attuned, compassionate support to become comfortable and confident with feeling their emotions. The less support they receive for any given emotion, the more they will become adults who hide from, resist, shut down, condemn, or deny those unsupported emotions. It is extremely difficult to reclaim our capacity to grieve without help from others. Support from those who are comfortable with their own emotions is usually necessary. Francis Weller speaks in his interview about a time when he was so cut off from his own grief that he couldn’t even look his clients in the eye. You can be sure that his clients didn’t feel comfortable to grieve in his presence. Weller speaks honestly about how difficult it was for him to regain his capacity to grieve, and how he was finally able to weep with the right support from others. My journey back to grieving has been long and varied. At different times, I tried to bury or run from my grief and other emotions with TV, video games, alcohol, drugs, travel, work, extreme sports, food, yoga and spiritual practices. I didn’t know I was trying to run from my grief. No one around me was grieving. No one told me that grieving was an important part of life. These days, grieving is an important and profound part of my life, though I still attempt to escape my grief from time to time. With good support, grieving is not only cleansing but is also a fountain of inspiration and creativity (many of my songs have been inspired by my grieving). Grieving reminds us of the preciousness of life, it helps us integrate loss, and it opens us to deeper compassion, inspiration, and joy.