Introducing a special series on grieving.
Dale Goldstein is a friend and licensed psychotherapist. Since 1981 he has managed Heartwork. It's a series of workshops and retreats that genuinely transform people. I've seen how powerful his workshops are through many close friends who have been through them. He's also just written a book called Heartwork: How to get what you really, REALLY want.
Because so many who've written to HeroBracelets.org are dealing with grief, either from the loss of a loved one or dealing with their long absence and constant threat of danger, I've asked Dale to start writing a series of articles on dealing with grief.
If you find his writing helpful, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our goal would be to set up a special section on the site for his work and your questions and comments. If you are dealing with grief over a genuine loss, please take the time to read his thoughts. He's helped a great number of people deal with their grief, and in turn, transform their lives.
You can learn more about Heartwork at http://www.awakentheheart.org/griefsupport
"And I was having to bear the unbearable. If I must bear it, I would bear it -- find the whole meaning of it, taste the whole of it.... I would not run away from grief; I would not try to hold on to it when -- if, unbelievably -- it passed."-
I would like to share below the experience of the greatest loss of my life, in the hopes that it may, in some way, help others with their suffering. While I truly understand that divorce is a different kind of loss than death, and I also know that the loss of a child is the most difficult loss to bear (and one I personally lived in constant fear of for many years), nevertheless I believe my story may be instructive to many and so I offer it here:
(Expanded from my book, Heartwork: How To Get What You Really, REALLY Want)
When my marriage of twenty years ended, I was heartbroken—absolutely unbearably heartbroken. Ellen had been my best friend for twenty-one years, my life partner and co-creator/co-facilitator of Heartwork. In one fell swoop, I lost all of this and my family, my home and my future.
I allowed myself to experience the loss fully. I created a room in my house that was womb-like. It was the smallest bedroom in the house. I painted it the color of a southwest desert cave. I put our queen-size bed in the room and bought the softest foam mattress available, and covered that with a feather mattress, so that, when I lay down on the bed, it hugged me!
For six months, I cried myself to sleep every night, I woke up crying every morning, and I cried whenever I had a break in the day. One night I cried all night. In the morning, as the sun rose, a little bird chirped, and there was joy in my heart again.
People who know me well tell me I grew more in those six months than I had in all the work I had done on myself in the previous 30 years.
“The end of one thing is the beginning of another.”—Anonymous
I would like to recommend three books that I have found most useful for the people I have worked with over the last 40 years who are dealing with loss and grief:
The first book, Meetings at the Edge, by Stephen Levine (Gill & MacMillan, 2002), is a book specifically about dealing with death and dying. For many years, Stephen and his wife, Ondrea, started and ran the Dying Project in Taos, New Mexico, where they counseled many hunbdreds of people dealing with death – their own or that of a loved one. Each chapter in the book is a different person’s story and a beautiful description of how they skillfully counseled that person through their grief.
The second book, When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chödrön (Shambhala Publications, 2000), is one of two books I recommend to everyone who is going through a difficult life transition. It is filled with both compassionate understanding and practical tools for dealing with loss and change,
The last book, Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse (New Directions Publishing, 1957), is the only book I have ever read, during the reading of which, my life transformed.
she came to me
in tears and anger.
"Why did He have to die,
to leave me here alone?"
"Why do Others have a happy life,
a house, a family, a Home?"
"Why not me, why has all of it
I could not answer her.
I talked the way I always do.
I said the things I thought I knew:
of love and loss
and finding ones' true self;
of how we all are spirit,
at root are one, together,
And yet it was so much,
just ashes in my mouth.
So here I sit,
still trying to find those words:
to make flowers blossom from a stone,
turn water into wine,
bring the dead to life.
Trying to do anything
but be right here,
unable to do anything,
Dale Goldstein. LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and workshop facilitator who has actively explored the uses of meditative and psychotherapeutic tools in the process of helping individuals, groups and organizations to heal since 1966. He is the author of the multi-award winning book, Heartwork: How To Get What You Really, REALLY Want.
As a result of his own inner work, Dale saw a need to combine psychological and spiritual work in one comprehensive system. In 1981, he created Heartwork, a gentle yet powerful path for personal/spiritual transformation. Since that time, Dale has been the director of the Heartwork Institute, Inc., in Rochester, N.Y., home to his private counseling practice and a variety of seminars and workshops that he facilitates internationally.
You can learn more about Heartwork at http://www.awakentheheart.org/griefsupport.
Dale has written monthly columns for DAKA, the World Times, the international "good news newspaper," and New Health Dige