Grief is very hard and most of the time you don’t really know what to do about it. When a friend has lost a beloved pet, a family member or even suddenly learned that they have a disease that will be a part of the rest of his or her life, day in and day out, all of these things mean loss: That someone or something is no longer there, even though you and your friend remember how it was. It can be particularly hard when the loss is sudden, but loss means that everything is changed one way or another.
Everyone must experience grief in this world: that is the nature of how things are. However, very few learn how to work with grief, how to deal with it, help it or ease it, or anything. Very often, when you have lost something or someone, almost no one says anything: it seems as though they are abandoning you when you need them most! Yes, you can find out who your friends really are when something big changes in your life, whether it is a big loss or a big success or even, with some people, if you have even a little success.
This is not usually because they are bad people: most of the time they are simply unprepared. There are books you can read on etiquette and protocol; there are books you can read on now to fix your house or your garden, but there are very few books on how to deal with loss or grief,
This is sad, of course, because everyone faces grief many times in his or her life and some people face it every day. When something bad happens, things change but things also change when really good things happen and grief, more than an emotion, signifies how much you must change your sense of your own self from what was true before.
Every time you say you are going to do something and then don’t do it because of a thoughtless or selfish reason, you make yourself weaker. You make your self weaker because your words slide into lies, and lies take your own truth away. When you give your truth away to lies, you can’t count on yourself any more: you can’t trust yourself anymore! When you can’t trust yourself because you have been thoughtless and selfish and said what people want to hear instead of what is true, then you have no one you can count upon. When you have no one you can count upon, they you are like a leaf in a stream: you get pulled and pushed where the steam makes you go, not where you wish to go.
Floating down a river is fine if you are safe. But when you are not safe you need to know where the rudder in your boat is: your ethics. Your ethics are your own: they are your special possession, just as your boat might be if you were traveling in rapids: you need the boat to keep you safe!
So where do you find rapids in your life? Where do you need the boat of your own ethics: to mean what you say and say what you mean, to promise something for real and to be honest and strong? You need that boat of your truthfulness with yourself every day, and sometimes hundreds of times a day.
When you do something by yourself, with no one watching, can you trust yourself to do it and do it well or do you need someone else to force you to follow up on your promises? That seems so easy but guess what: If you need someone to tell you what to do all the time it’s not much different than letting yourself get used by drugs. You have given your most precious possession, the boat of your ethics, away, and now the river has you in its control.