“Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it.”-Harry Emerson Fosdick
It is easy to become angry and bitter after losing a loved one. Finding or feeling joy and hope seems impossible. We may even feel that the loss is somehow a punishment, an action taken by the universe to ruin our lives. We may even lash out at others, finding long-lasting comfort in the anger that comes with grief.
Wallowing in the bitterness of grief does little to help the situation. Bitterness and anger cannot change anything; they only make us prisoners of an inescapable emotional hell that corrodes us from the inside out.
The counterintuitive solution to approaching this bitterness, anger, and hopelessness is to immerse ourselves in love, specifically loving-kindness. This loving-kindness is a benevolent tenderness. Usually directed outwardly to others, loving-kindness in relationship to grief is a self-care technique that directs tenderness toward oneself.
In learning how to share love with themselves, grievers can slowly open themselves to feeling joy, hope, and happiness again while shedding the cocoon of anger and bitterness that has grown around them. Providing oneself with loving-kindness is not easy. It is a labor of grief that requires regular practice, for example, through meditation.
Although it feels like chaos, grief is an outpouring of love. It does not want to imprison grievers in bitterness or anger or hatred; grief wants to open us to a new (although painful) depth of love and vulnerability in our lives so that we can grow in our loss.
How can you practice loving-kindness for yourself this week? No action or thought is too small a beginning.