2: Grieve

“Grief is the price of love. Loving someone means that one day, there will be grieving. They will leave you, or you will leave them. The more you love, the more you grieve. Loving someone also means grieving with them. It means letting their pain and loss bleed into your own heart. When you see that pain coming, you may want to throw up the guard rails, sound the alarm, raise the flag, but you must keep the borders of your heart porous in order to love well. It is an act of surrender. . . . When we are brave enough to sit with our pain, it deepens our ability to sit with the pain of others. It shows us how to love them.”

“We come to know people when we grieve with them through stories and rituals. It is how we can build real solidarity, the kind that points us to the world we want to live in—and our role in fighting for it….America’s greatest social movements—for civil rights, immigrants’ rights, women’s rights, union organizing, queer and trans rights, farmworkers’ rights, indigenous sovereignty, and black lives—were rooted in the solidarity that came from shared grieving. First people grieved together. Then they organized together….When people who have no obvious reason to love each other come together to grieve, they can give birth to new relationships, even revolutions.”

—Valarie Kaur, See No Stranger, Chapter 2

Understanding Grieve

A Practice of Love for Others

To grieve with others is to share their pain, without trying to minimize or erase it. Grieving with others requires a willingness to be transformed by their experiences, especially those who have suffered trauma and violence. Grieving collectively and in community gives us the information to build solidarity, to fight for justice, and even to share in one another’s joy.

  1. How is grieving an act of love? How can collective grieving with others be a practice of solidarity and a revolutionary act?
  2. How can the practice of wonder help us to love and grieve with others, even those we do not know?
  3. What is at stake for us when we grieve together? What is to be gained? What is lost when we have failed to grieve as a nation?
  • Grieve in community. Grieve with the living.
  • Reach out to someone who you know who is grieving.  Listen to them.  It is okay if you don’t know what to say; your presence is medicine.  If you need words, you can say: You are grieving but you are not grieving alone. Notice what it feels like in your body as you do this.
  • If you are grieving yourself, create a container and practices for your grieving. These may include creating rituals, planting flowers or seeds in your loved one’s memory, creating art or scrapbooks with photographs, letters, postcards, notes, and writing down words unsaid, or carrying something special that reminds you of your loved one.
  • If you are grieving others, especially members of communities harmed in acts of violence, send messages of love to those harmed. If possible, show up in person or on-line to public memorials or rallies to grieve with the living. Donate to funds to support these families and communities if you are able. Explore these communities’ histories to learn more about patterns of both historical violence and resilience. 
  • Be present with the pain of others and let their pain inform what you fight for. 
  • Commit to fighting for the rights of all people, not only in the ways that they mourn; but in the ways that everyone deserves to live and thrive.
  • Write in your wisdom journal: What are you learning from grieving with others? What information have you gained about those you are grieving with? What are you learning about yourself?