By Judith E. Lipson, M.A., LPC
As a reader of my newsletter, you know that I am a fan of the work of Karla McLaren and her writings about emotions. A client recently brought one of McLaren’s articles to my attention, and after reading it I found I had a lot of reflections. I hope that you will read the article, and then my reflections. https://karlamclaren.com/grief-the-deep-river-of-the-soul/
I believe the river of souls is that deepest place of ourselves, of each of us, the part that we all have in common: that depth in each of our souls. That part that knows, and feels, and experiences.
In the article she also mentions the river of tears. I suspect this is a metaphor for that place to which all grievers go. That very deep, dark, hard place where you feel heavy and the best you can do is drop. And wail. However, most of our society does not allow that, let alone nurture and support it.
I do like the idea of the altar, especially for complicated and complex grief, because it can be so incredibly overwhelming and all-consuming for the body and the being. And I don’t think she means to insinuate that grief should be over in a matter of a couple of months. But I think her technique, and suggestions for this altar, could be helpful so that the being knows that the intense grief happens here, ceremonially and in real time. And this would allow for the option that when some time passes and you want to live life, while still grieving, you have a way of knowing that this is the place where it can take place safely.
It gives permission to really let the body and the feelings completely release, which is how grief heals. She talks about the need to really go down. To that place that most people don’t want to go to. That place that many in grief have found themselves in, numerous times. That place where so many are terrified to be, to feel. And it seems, within our culture, that to experience this depth, in the days and weeks after, would be so much easier, because our culture might accept a deep grief response, but not after a “given time”. [Read more…]