There’s really nothing I like better than talking to a friend who is grieving. I wonder if that sounds strange. It has always been pleasurable for me, ever since I can remember. And I am so grateful that people often seek me out to talk to when they are in that state. Sometimes it’s people I don’t know. I can’t count the number of times I have sat down next to someone at a dinner for my husband’s work and found out minutes into the conversation that the person I’ve just met is grieving. I guess people can feel my willingness to talk about it and they just naturally share it with me. And maybe the frequency of that happening is just a coincidence. Maybe I’m just lucky.
Talking about grief is important to me because it’s something we all share. A point of connection. It’s like a club that everyone has to join at some point in life. And when I’m not in the middle of it, I can help someone who is. I can be a big solid tree limb to grab onto when the tsunami hits.
Everyone needs a lifeline sometimes. In fact, we all need a little lifeline every day. We need others to anchor us, get us out of destructive habits, help us remember to have faith in ourselves, and our situations. We all need at least a small branch to hang onto every day. But sometimes, we are so deep in our emotions, like when we’re grieving, or terrified of dying, or losing a relationship, in those times we need to reach out and ask.
Today I took a walk with a friend who recently lost someone. Walking is such a great way to approach grief because you don’t have to look at anyone if you don’t want to. It’s a way to make space and allow yourself to feel sad and also keep moving. And that’s really what grieving comes down to.
Toward the end of our walk I was reminding my friend, who is also a mother, to take care of herself. Just then we noticed a whole pile of white feathers on the ground. The site of some poor pigeon’s end. We gathered up a slew of them and I told her that I often see white pigeons on our street.
Years ago, when I was grieving my baby, a friend and mentor urged me to pay attention to the timing of things. I told my friend to make a little altar at home with the feathers and to keep her eye out for white pigeons and let them remind her to take breaks, to meditate for a few minutes when she needs to, or just remember the person who died.
There is no shame in asking for help. There is certainly no shame in giving it. I am so proud to call myself a healer. To know that doesn’t mean I’m special or different than anyone else. All it means is I am willing to walk down the scary dark alleys with people. I am willing to hang out in the windstorm and stick out my branch. I’m willing to look at anyone’s grief, to call it what it is (a natural process), to pick up a few feathers and toss a lifeline to whomever needs it.