My cousin was murdered. It's a weird sentence to say or write. She didn't just die. It wasn't illness or an accident that took her from us. It was the decision of another person to end her life. She was murdered a week ago. I have had a whole week to try to process this information and I still am having trouble getting my brain to accept it. No matter the amount of spiritual and self-help work you do, you can't always accept everything that happens.
I could make this post about my anger. It could be about how angry I am that our country has not done enough to stop this kind of thing from happening. I am angry about the state of gun laws, of violence against women, about the lack of support and protection for women in dangerous circumstances, the lack of mental health opportunities, and how voices are silenced. I am angry at the man who took her life and then his own. I have even been angry at God and all the powers of the Universe. Being spiritual doesn't stop you from being angry at times.
I could make this post about grief. How, no matter who you are, you will have versions of the stages of grief when you experience loss. That grief is not just feeling sad but feeling everything. You cycle through anger, sadness, numbness, peace, joy, and then back again. In fact, it's like being bounced around from emotion to emotion with no sort of order to follow. Grief is an experience that you move through and just keep moving through and it keeps changing. No amount of guidance or meditation will stop this.
Instead, I want to talk about pain. We try to stop the pain in ourselves and in others all the time. If we see someone crying or expressing discomfort, we ask how we can make it stop. We try to stop our own pain. We use drugs (prescription or not), alcohol, food, entertainment, sex, and whatever will shift our mood for a moment to escape it. We want to numb out and tune out. This is a natural response. Pain often means danger or death or a sign that something is wrong. Of course the natural response is to avoid it. Pain is also a doorway for us to walk through. Every painful experience has led me to new growth with my soul, deeper meaning in my life, a new understanding of myself and the world around me, and the birth of something new.
Pain brings truth, clarity, and brings us right into the present moment. That can sometimes be the cause of the pain. If we are in denial and avoiding, then we don't even realize what the pain is about. We might blame others or pretend to be happy when inside we feel like we our drowning. When we allow ourselves to sit with the pain, we can start to release and find peace. It is often our resistance and fighting or shoving the pain down that causes the pain to be so harsh. Emotional pain and physical pain can be better if you can relax into it. Let the tears flow. Let yourself wail if you need to. Open yourself to release the pain and birth forward something new.
The pain is a blessing, too. It means we are alive! It means we are experiencing life at its fullest. It means we are being honest with ourselves and living in alignment with our true feelings. The pain is only temporary when we feel it. This allows it to morph and change. It is holding onto pain and trying not to feel it that keeps it around forever. That said, there are some pains that will never fully leave, but we can embrace them as part of ourselves and make peace still. So, please feel your pain, embrace it, make peace with it, and watch it transform you.