The Five Gates of Grief
Facing grief is hard work…it takes outrageous courage to face outrageous loss. Yet, this is precisely what we are called to do. For the first time in my life, I’m beginning to see more health/wellness and mainstream people speak and write about wellness, healthy living, death and dying. We are beginning to appreciate that dying, death and loss are part of the natural cycle of life…for all living beings.
I know these are difficult topics to talk about, but having open conversations about grief are part of the transformational conscious change that is occurring on the planet. One of the authors who has helped me to open my heart more fully to loss and grief is psychologist and soul worker Francis Weller, author of a beautifully written book The Wild Edge of Sorrow. He has been one of my mentors for my own soul work and an extraordinary teacher for helping me guide others through their dark waters of grief and sorrow.
In his book, Francis says “Every one of us must undertake an apprenticeship with sorrow. We much learn the art and craft of grief; discover the profound ways it ripens and deepens us. While grief is an intense emotion, it is also a skill we develop through a profound walk with loss.”
One of Weller’s most important contributions in this book is his delineation of the “five gates of grief.” Several of the gates will be familiar to you, while others will not be so well known to many of us.
- The first gate is known to all of us. It is that we will eventually lose everything we love. In the end, we take nothing with us but who we truly are and the purpose we came to earth to live and learn from.
- The second gate has to do with those things we have not known. These are the places in us that have been ignored and banished to the depths of our unconscious. We cannot grieve what we have not experienced in our lives.
- The third gate is the sorrows of the world. This sorrow is one that is becoming more familiar every day – destruction of the earth, extinction of animals, deforestation, unclean water, fires, floods and on and on. The cumulative grief of the world is overwhelming.
- The fourth gate is what we expected and did not receive. No child expects to come into the world to experience fear, abuse and lack of love. We never expect that we won’t be able to reach our full potential, to live on purpose, or to share our true gifts in the world.
- The fifth gate is our ancestral grief. This is the grief we carry in our bodies from our ancestors. Grief of mental illness, slavery, leaving our family, denying past family history, violence, alcoholism and other woes
Many of these unmet needs turn into sorrow and grief that we don’t recognize as loss. Therefore, we aren’t aware of what is making us feel sad, depressed and alone. Grief is part of life. Looking at and sharing our losses can awaken serenity.
If you are walking through loss, I highly recommend you read this book – The Wild Edge of Sorrow – or any book that helps you find more peace and joy in your life.
I will be offering several opportunities for Loss and Grief support:
Grieving Through the Holidays: A Circle of Compassion and
Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church, Louisville, KY;
Nov 20, Dec 4, 11, 18; 404-824-7332.
Dealing With Loss and Grief During the Holidays;
Rainbow Blossom – Highlands, Louisville, KY; Dec 7, 14 at 2:00pm; 404-
***Article originally posted at The Natural Living Journal.***