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Learning to Lament in Times of Collapse

Updated: Mar 8

“The prevailing psychiatric view of grief is based on the assumption that the ego as we know it is the one and only ground of consciousness. With no awareness or acknowledgement of the spiritual dimensions of loss and death, the psychiatric view sees “resolution” as a process of the conventional ego’s re-adaptation to life after loss, not as a transformative opening to a profoundly new sense of self.” - Miriam Greenspan

"THE FOLLOWING WORDS ARE THE WRITINGS OF TEMPIST JADE. A CREATRICKSTER, WHO I AM BEYOND HONOURED TO WELCOME ONTO THIS PLATFORM." Jessica Rita MA, CCC


My feet were firmly planted on the pedals, tires crunching sand and dried leaf under the combined weight of my body and the bike. Rocking tides of salt water, whose aromatic speech wafted through the warm wind, churned my breaking heart. The density of my pain anchored me to the lava fields upon my arrival. Reddish-black craggy rock, igneous in formation, was being repetitiously bathed by unruly waves. Gnarled trees stretched their braided branches out over the raucous water as if pointing the way to something unknowable. Incomprehensible, at least, to my well-worn narratives that sought the chance to escape the swelling force invoked by my own unravelling. Dark sunglasses shielded my achy eyes from the onlooking gaze of the occasional few meandering along the shoreline. Plummeting off the ridges of my cheekbones and tumbling down toward my hot skin and the shifting sand,


MY TEARS DROPPED LIKE HEAVY, RIPE FRUIT SEEDING THE GROUND WITH THE POSSIBILITY OF NEW LIFE.


I wanted to be taken by the water, to let the buoyant salt carry my body toward its death. A dying to old ways of being, loving, and seeing, and grief was an agent of my inevitable transformation. Grief is a transgressive force within an overculture that teaches us to be pathologically positive.


Like tears dropping down upon ink on paper, grief blurs the edges of social sensibilities and bleeds transformation. Unrestricted to one emotional state, grief gravitationally draws us deeper into the stretches of our soft-bellied existence through invocations of sorrow, despair, anger and rage, and even ecstatic wonder. When we are personally capable and communally encouraged to unmoor ourselves from narratives of control that would press and pressure us into apollonian presentations, the shattered pieces of our lives can rock through and dissolve within the fluxing tides of grief. Surrendering certainties within an overculture that seeks an abiding permanence can feel annihilative. And yet, knowledge of cyclic wisdom dwells within each of our ancestrally birthed bodies. Change is seasonal and transformation is Gaian, and because of this earthen truth each of us is cellularly equipped to cultivate an ongoing relationship with grief.




THOUGH IT MIGHT FEEL IMPOSSIBLE AT TIMES, WE ARE CONTINUOUSLY GIVEN OPPORTUNITY AFTER OPPORTUNITY TO PRACTICE.


Life’s dynamic unfolding unquestioningly bestows us with experiential boons that remind us that love, loss, joy, and pain are birthrights. Though many a people and culture still have (semi) in-tact ceremonial containers and communal practices that foster an ongoing relationship with grief, many of equal measure walk the land with an anguishing hunger for such holding. How many reading this can feel the longing to be shown how to grieve, and to be witnessed in that grief?


TO BE RECEIVED WITH HOLY GESTURES OF FIERCE LOVE AND TENDER SUPPORT DURING OUR SMALLEST CRUMBLINGS AND OUR LARGEST SHATTERINGS?


To have flowers placed at our feet, outstretched arms beckoning us deeper into ourselves, and gazes witnessing the strength of our personal knowings that spring from our enwebbed belonging. A great stretch of my own life was absent of such communal holding by other humans, and those who were emotionally fluent were few and far between. As one who feels deeply and expresses passionately, periods of my life were spent wandering deserts desperately looking for watering holes to both drink from and replenish with my own tears. For grief is not only a transforming force, it is also an ecologically reciprocating force. It nourishes the relational fields from which we spring through mattering incantations. in that, as beings of matter we inherently matter.


OUR CREATIVE CAPACITIES ARE BOUND TO THE ENDLESS WAYS LIFE TOUCHES US, AND THE DEGREE TO WHICH WE ARE ABLE TO FEEL LIFE’S IMPACT.

Rather than pushing down and stuffing away the grief I was feeling, I sought the wisdom and witness of more-than-human kin. Tucked beneath towering trees, their bending limbs encircling me, I would let the agony of my breaking heart spill over their winding root-ways. The wind wicking my tears and fanning the flames of my anger, lifted every craggy, guttural cry across sky-ways like prayers of re-membrance. Prayers that seeded the clouds whose amniotic waters might drop down upon farther-reaching lands for others to imbibe. Living memories inspiring others to feed the world with their own lament. I still seek the wisdom and witness of more-than-human kin, and I also recognize the potent and irreplaceable need for human wisdom and witness.

THESE TIMES WE ARE LIVING ARE IMMENSE, AND THE IMPLICATIONS OF BEING ALIVE AT THIS PARTICULAR TIME ARE INCONTROVERTIBLE. UNDOUBTEDLY, OTHERS, LONG BEFORE US, HAVE UTTERED SUCH WORDS, AS WELL.


Urgency abounds, and paired with the fast-paced demand to “go, go, go” and “do, do, do” belted from the mouths of industrial, capitalistic, colonizing cultures (that also spring from our earthen bodies), slowing down to feel the vast mystery of our personal and shared existence is a radical act.


To redirect our awareness from the endless barrage of attentional demands, to untether from the cacophony of current paradigmatic pursuits, and permission ourselves to traverse the sea of our emotional inheritance is not only a demonstration of self-love. it is also a sacred gesture from which we honor the world. Admittedly, there are diverse and varying obstacles that stand in the way of uttering a full-bodied “yes” to grief; to slowing down so as to feel the shape of our lives, and the ways our lives are shaping the world. Socio-economical, -political, -ecological, intergenerational, ancestral… to name a few. And yet, even amidst such impasses, there are divergent passages forged by our resilience and will to live. By our ancestrally equipped knowing that transformation is inevitable, and that we have access to ancient and emergent navigational tools humming in the very cells of our embodied imaginations. By our inherent capacity to show up for one another in perfectly imperfect ways. “How are you?,” though seemingly superficial, is actually quite a big question with many winding off-shoots for wonder and curiosity to traverse.


It is a simple question that can spin the one receiving it toward a densely packed tree-line; a wide-clearing; a rambunctious sea; a crystalline mountain lake; a storming horizon; a decomposing forest floor; a monsooning jungle. It is a question that invites presence from both the one receiving, as well as the one offering. As a relational gesture, such a question clears the way for intimacy and deep listening. Evocations of story elicit the sincerity of experience, and lay the ground for grief’s prayerful transgressions. Answering the simplest of questions such as this with compassionate honesty infuses the world with reverence, and compels the world toward necessary deaths. Deaths that tell tales of unknown futures of personal and collective proportion. Futures pregnant with all manner of possibility.

So, I ask you, here at the end of this article that is a part of a much larger, living conversation, how are you?


And, I invite you to share your answer with the tree just beyond your window; with the spider suspended in the obscure corner of your house; with the playful wind tussling your hair; with the glowing moon cascading across your sleepless body; with the friend stopping by for tea; with the co-worker whose own heart longs to hear the utterance of that question; with the beetle steadfastly crawling to somewhere unnamable; with the ancestral ones that have never left your side; with the serpentine river whose bends caress the banks where deer graze.


AND I INVITE YOU TO SPEAK AS IF YOU MIGHT NEVER GET THE CHANCE TO ANSWER SUCH A QUESTION EVER AGAIN.


Originally published by Jessica Rita through Modern Courage


“prayer is an utterance straight from the heart into the universe.”

- miriam greenspan

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