Navigating Grief: The Promise of The Second Beatitude

Navigating Grief: The Promise of The Second Beatitude

A poignant journey into the heart of grief where sorrow and joy intertwine to reveal a deeper understanding of the human experience. Facing the non-linear journey through grief requires courage and grace. In this thoughtful episode, Nina shares a personal story—she recounts a roadside accident and a heartbreak that resurfaced long-buried grief. Challenging experiences serve as a reminder that a one instance can trigger deeply buried sorrow, causing a flood of emotions to resurface and be unblocked.

Our discussion centers around the second beatitude: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”. We invite you to reflect on this wisdom, and consider your own experiences with grief. Can you identify moments when comfort emerged amidst your sorrow? Have these experiences led to personal growth or a deeper understanding of yourself?

The episode draws on ancient wisdom, personal anecdotes, and a touching poem to underline the crucial role of our ‘shadow’ side in personal development and self-understanding.

If you’re seeking to better understand the delicate intricacies of despair, or if you’re searching for solace in knowing you’re not alone, this episode is for you. Listen, share with a friend who might find comfort in it, and join us in our exploration of the mysteries and grace of grief.




Transcript

Welcome back to the Holy Rebels Podcast. I’m so happy you’re here because I’m passionate about today’s topic. We’re exploring a series about The Beatitudes, 8 keys to happiness, invitations deepen your intimacy with the divine, and mystical laws that you can tap into to feel connected and purposeful.

This is the third episode in the series, so we’re diving right into the second beatitude today. I recommend you listen to these episodes in order because they build on one another. The introductory episode talks about how we need to approach the beatitudes in order to unlock their hidden meanings and gifts. So I highly recommend you listen to it first.

Let’s turn now to the second beatitude, the second key to happiness. “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Like all the other beatitudes, this one serves as a guide for navigating the complexities of human experience. This Beatitude speaks to us when we’re grieving: the passing of a loved one, the end of a significant chapter in your life, or a heart-wrenching personal disappointment, or even a transition from one season of life to another… As you well know, when you’re mourning, it’s almost unbearable. Your heart feels like it’s been shattered into a million pieces.

Psychotherapist and grief advocate Megan Devine says, “There are losses that rearrange the world. Deaths that change the way you see everything, grief that tears everything down. Pain that transports you to an entirely different universe, even while everyone else thinks nothing has really changed.”

We live in a broken world, and everyone’s journey eventually finds its way to sorrow. We live in a world that’s marked by loss, so grief is something that’s to be expected. But so often we try to avoid it, don’t we? We try to rush through it or go around it. Face it? And experience it? That’s hard work. 

There are two concurrent emotional experiences that run parallel through our lives: sorrow and joy. It’s part of our human existence. I think of St Augustine when he said, “Teach me to know myself, that I might know you”. If there are parts of ourselves that we’re ignoring or avoiding, we’re going to be incomplete in our ability to really know what the Sacred is. The Sacred wants to reveal Itself to us because Beingness wants to become Consciousness, that’s how evolutionary consciousness works. The blessing is that the Divine is present in the places within us that even we are afraid to go. 

You’re blessed when you fear you’ve lost what is most dear to you, only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. 

The blessing is that when you mourn, when you’re present to your grief, comfort will come. There’s a Jewish tradition of mourning called the Shiva, where the community visits the grieving family, just to offer their presence. That period lasts for seven days. (Shiva literally means 7). Isn’t that beautiful? We can never understand someone else’s pain, but we can offer our presence because one thing that grief does is that it isolates us.

Grief is lonely. It often feels too big to be expressed, like if you allow grief to exist, if you give in to it, the pain will become an echo chamber, amplifying your sorrow, making it into an all-consuming monster that will devour you into a black hole you’ll never escape. So, we resist feeling our grief because we’re terrified that it’s too big to hold.

When I was 16, I witnessed an accident up close that will forever be etched in my memory. A van ahead of me, its headlights trying to see through the fog. The road was dark. Suddenly, a chilling screech cut through the silence. The brakes of the van slammed hard, but it was a moment too late. A pedestrian was hit, sent soaring into the air, a horrifying 15 feet. The body hit the unforgiving cement with a sickening thud. The scene unfolded with a dreadful surrealness, gruesome in its stark reality. 

The woman accompanying the unfortunate man was frozen in disbelief, and then reality set in. When it did, it was as if time stood still for her, and also everyone in her vicinity. A heart-wrenching wail pierced the air, a primal scream from the depths of her being, echoing the magnitude of her despair. It was a sound that bore the rawness of human pain—an animalistic outcry of a soul suddenly plunged into a void of grief and horror. 

These are the moments when you are starkly reminded of the unpredictability of life, the fragility of our existence. The devastating impact of a single moment. It’s a potent reminder that no matter how much control we think we have, there are forces beyond our reach, nudging us towards the realization of our inherent vulnerability.

I didn’t tell anyone. My brain compartmentalized what had happened. After the police interview, I went home, said hi to my mom (remember, I was 16), and I tried to forget what I saw.

There’s an innate tendency to push pain away, to seal it off in some hidden corner of our heart. But you’ve got to somehow find those places where your grief is allowed to be as bad as it really is. Your pain needs space. The more you can let it spread out, to expand, to unfurl in all its ugliness, the more you can BE with it. And when you can simply witness the hurting animal within you, and allow your pain to exist, it somehow softens.

There’s nothing you need to do with your pain. Just let it exist. Tend to yourself inside it. Put your hand on your heart and wail. Give yourself care. That’s so different from trying to heal your grief. You can’t fix your pain because it’s not a deficiency. It’s not a problem to be fixed or a wound to be healed. It’s a testament to your capacity to love.

Here in this moment of surrender, when all you can do with the energy you have left is pray, “God, help me.” —here, something remarkable happens. Your prayer is a catalyst. It’s as if a channel opens, and an inflowing river of grace streams into your heart…. It’s God, softly soothing the fragments of your brokenness. Have you ever experienced this? 

When this happens, it feels like a miracle. You feel seen and loved, through and through by the Universe. Ripe are those who are coming apart at the seams, for they shall be knit back together.

None of us are truly alone. Suffering is a shared human experience. When we allow ourselves to mourn, we not only find comfort from a higher source, but we often find empathy and support from those around us who have also walked the path of sorrow.

In a way, this beatitude emphasizes the beauty of vulnerability. It teaches us that by acknowledging our pain, we’re inviting healing energies to flow into our lives. It’s a process of catharsis, a way to release the pent-up emotions that weigh us down. There’s a gift in this too—your capacity to hold compassion for others grows immensely.

Looking back, I feel grateful for the periods of grief in my life because they have expanded my capacity to feel and built emotional resilience. I’ve discovered how to navigate through the waves of sorrow, and this empowers me to be there for others who are going through the same. Sometimes your personal grief transforms into a gift – a gift of empathy and support that you can extend to others in their time of need. “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Sometimes, it’s us who end up being the comforter. This, in its truest essence, is compassion. The Latin root of the word “compassion” means “to suffer with another”, and that’s exactly what our experiences with grief allow us to do.

So we have to acknowledge our pain, rather than suppress it because it’s in allowing your vulnerability to exist that you create a space for your own healing and growth to take place. Trying to suppress sorrow only serves to extend it. It’s like trying to hold back a river with your bare hands — it’s not only an overwhelming struggle but a futile one. And more significantly, repressing grief is detrimental because you’re ignoring your need for comfort. You’re essentially denying yourself the opportunity of a comforting encounter with the divine.

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve put up walls to shield myself from my grief, and it stems from fear. I was afraid that it’s never going to get better. Or that the best is behind me now. Or afraid of what the future might hold. So I ignored those emotions because I was afraid of what would happen. But fear is a completely flawed motivator, right? It’ll lead us to do desperate things or betray our integrity. 

Here’s the deal though: there’s no need for fear. I mean, think about it. The Life Force that created you, that’s got you here today, is closer to you than you are to yourself. It’s like a built-in support system, perpetually ready to have your back. And that’s something I’ve been reminded of time and time again. The phrase “do not be afraid” rings loud and clear as the most repeated phrase in scripture. Guess how many times it appears? 365 times. 

It’s like a daily reminder that it’s going to be okay. Do not be afraid. Trust the universe. You’re not alone in your struggles.

Sometimes grief can sneak up on us—We find ourselves grappling with the realities of change. These times in our lives are often accompanied by a sense of loss, a sense of mourning for the familiar that we’ve left behind. 

Imagine it like this: You’re traversing from one season of life to another. Maybe you’re uprooting your life to move to a new city, or maybe you’ve just retired, or perhaps, you’re stepping into the beautiful world of parenthood.

These transitions, as exciting as they may be, come with their own melancholy. It’s like bidding farewell to a dear friend, knowing that things won’t be the same again. You’ve been cocooned comfortably in a season, and now, you’re emerging into the unknown, leaving the shell of the old behind. 

Think about it. When you relocate, you’re trading the familiar lanes of your community, the sense of home you’ve built, for a new, unfamiliar place. When you retire, it’s not just about ending a career, but it’s like stepping into the winter phase of your life, a season of rest and reflection. 

And when you become a parent, it’s a joyous, miraculous journey, but there’s also a poignant goodbye to the carefree, maiden part of you. These life transitions, they’re beautiful, they’re natural, but they’re also bittersweet. They come with their own sense of grief, a grief that’s subtle, yet profound. It’s a gentle reminder of the delicate balance of beginnings and endings, joy and sorrow.  

Have you ever been grieving a loss, and suddenly you find yourself immersed in forgotten wounds from the past? The experience of dealing with one loss can open the floodgates to past sorrows and it’s as if one incident acts as a catalyst, sparking a cascade of memories that wash over you, leaving you in a sea of grief. 

Sometimes the trigger isn’t personal. Sometimes it’s as innocuous as a scene from a movie, a song, or a story on your feed. Something that, on the surface, holds no apparent connection to your loss, and yet manages to stir up dormant feelings of sorrow. This is a testament to the depth of human emotion.

For instance, my encounter with the roadside accident in my teenage years. The shock, the horror, the helplessness I felt witnessing the inconsolable grief of a stranger, a wailing woman whose world had just been shattered in an instant. That deeply unsettling experience  remained unprocessed in my subconscious for a long time. 

It wasn’t until I went through a heartbreak in my mid-twenties that those suppressed feelings came rushing to the surface. I came home to find his things were gone, and as soon as it clicked what was happening, I collapsed to the floor and found myself screaming in sorrow. I recoil at that memory because I didn’t know my body could make those sounds. It felt as though I was having an exorcism. I must have dissociated because I wasn’t crying about my ex. I was remembering the wailing woman from the accident, and the raw grief that took her, and my overwhelming feeling of helplessness as a witness. 

These intense experiences of grief can be like a river of sorrow. Grief and joy both are intricate interconnectedness of our emotions and memories. The way one loss can act as a spark, igniting the latent sorrow within us, shows how deeply we internalize our experiences. 

It’s a reminder that processing grief is an ongoing, non-linear journey, one that takes us across the varied landscape of our emotional world. So, be kind to yourself because navigating these emotions is courageous. 

Blessed are those who face their sorrow with courage, for they shall feel their true strength.

We learn to understand our anguish, not shun it. We learn to see our grief as an essential part of our human experience. And, most importantly, we learn that it’s okay to mourn, for it is through mourning that we find comfort.

Dave Brisbin expertly translates this beatitude from Greek to English. It goes: Fortunate are those who lament, for they will hear the voice of God calling them back home.  

Around the time of the accident, I buried myself in poetry anthologies, and I bookmarked this one, perhaps you know it. This poem is by the great mystic Rumi, and it’s been a guide for navigating grief. It’s called Shadow and Light Source Both, and it goes like this:

How does a part of the world leave the world?

How does wetness leave water?

Don't try to put out fire by throwing on 

more fire! Don't wash a wound with blood. 

No matter how fast you run, your shadow 

keeps up. Sometimes it's in front! 

Only full overhead sun diminishes your shadow. 

But that shadow has been serving you. 

What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is

your candle. Your boundaries are your quest.

I could explain this, but it will break the

glass cover on your heart, and there's no

fixing that. 

You must have shadow and light source both. 

Listen, and lay your head under the tree of awe. 

When from that tree feathers and wings sprout on you, 

be quieter than a dove. Don't even open your mouth for 

even a coo.

Shadow and Light Source Both, by Rumi

My friend, I truly cherish this conversation. Thank you for spending time with me and exploring this profound subject-matter. The second beatitude has incredible wisdom and power: Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. 

Between now and next week, I invite you to reflect on the second beatitude: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”. How does this wisdom offer you a new perspective on grief or sorrow? Can you recall a time when you experienced comfort in your mourning?

Remember, this is a deeply personal process. Spend some time journaling your thoughts or simply sit quietly with your feelings. Remember to be gentle with yourself. It’s not about judging or analyzing your feelings, but simply acknowledging and respecting them. 

Next week we’re going to explore the third beatitude, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”. I can’t wait to continue our exploration of these ancient teachings.

If you enjoyed this episode, share it with a friend who might be going through a hard time right now and could use some comfort.

Until next time, Trust the mystic within you. 

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