LISTENING IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE
Friday, March 26, 2021
Grief and Gratitude
by Scott Stoner
The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. —Francis Weller
Earlier this week I wrote about the full range of emotions that we nat-urally feel. Our feelings will undoubtedly range from the challenging feelings of grief and sadness to the more pleasant emotions of happiness and gratitude. As we think about the emotions we are likely to feel in the midst of significant change, grief certainly needs to be included.
Grief is an inevitable part of our lives because change is always happen-ing in our lives. We all experienced times of grief and loss before the pandemic, and we will experience them again after the pandemic has passed. While none of us desires grief and loss experiences, they are part of the fabric of life. The choice we have then is how we will carry our grief.
Francis Weller, a well-respected psychotherapist and grief expert, pro-vides helpful wisdom on how to carry grief. I will close with the full version of the above quote. His keen insight reminds us that when we take time to honor and listen to our grief, we will find that our capacity for compassion and gratitude are enhanced.
The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give. If I carry only grief, I’ll bend toward cynicism and despair. If I have only gratitude, I’ll become saccharine and won’t develop much compassion for other people’s suffering. Grief keeps the heart fluid and soft, which helps make compassion possible.
Making It Personal: In general, how comfortable are you with listening to and honoring grief—your own and others? What stands out to you in the Francis Weller quote, and how does that speak to you right now?