Over the past two years, I have experienced more loss than my entire life before this time. I know I am not the only one. It has been a dark night for our world, a darkness we must walk through in order to exit, hopefully, wiser and more compassionate. There is a quote I like that helps me remember that the darkness must be embraced and listened to for the alchemy to transform ourselves and our world. “The only way out is through. The only way through is in.”
However, this is only half of the alchemy. We have been taught in our culture that, after a short time, the only acceptable way to grieve is behind closed doors, alone. And it does not address the daily grief that those in caregiving roles shoulder almost daily. We have been taught to “get over it,” “move on,” “do not burden others.”
What we have forgotten in our culture is the other half of the grieving process, the way in which the transformation can happen for us as individuals and as a society. We in the “modern world” have lost the communal experience, the vessel in which we come together as a community and hear and hold each other through our grief.
This poem by Rainer Maria Rilke may speak to that reaching out. Whom is he asking for help? A divine presence? A loved one? His ancestors? His community?
I hope this poem gives you some solace and perhaps an answer for your own situation.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock
in flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone;
I am such a long way in I see no way through,
and no space: everything is close to my face,
and everything close to my face is stone.
I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief
so this massive darkness makes me small.
You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in:
then your great transforming will happen to me,
and my great grief cry will happen to you.