Grief comes to us in many forms. Yet, grief is a big mystery to most people. The way I understand grief to work is that a loss we experience now is rather like an earthquake; something shattering. Then, slowly over a period of days and weeks, a tsunami of grief often begins to arise. If we are in a supportive environment, we can take time to pause and look at what is in the tsunami; old losses of all kinds that are asking to be seen again, grieved again with new eyes. Which is exactly what we don’t want! More grief? Rumi said, “The cure for the pain… is pain.”
The cure for grieving is allowing grief to teach us everything it wishes to, without controlling it, without deflecting or denying it.
When I taught children to write poetry, I would start by asking the class if anyone had ever lost something they loved. Sure! My dad bought me a watch but I lost it. I left my skateboard outside and someone stole it, does that count? Sure, it’s a loss, too.
My turtle died. Our goldfish died. My dog died. My grandma died.
The room would grow still. Some of them knew about that kind of grief, some knew of even closer loss. My brother died. There were three children in this one school whose sibling died in front of them, in a car accident. Their experiences taught us all about grief and their new poetry voices allowed them to express themselves.
We grow uncomfortable when someone is grieving. We want to get away from conversations about death. Want to empty a room? Talk about death. Time to go.
With Jizo, death may become something as natural as petals falling from a flower after its bloom. As the Earth Womb Bodhisattva, we may turn to him and ask that we be held safely in facing the frightening unknown. As I created a wall for lost children and unborn babies, the Mizuko Kuyo Wall, so I thought Jizo & Chibi should have a place for our garden-variety grief. A place to come, to leave a flower at the feet of the Jizo and send a wish for someone who is gone. A wish for those left behind.
Jizo’s nature resides inside every sentient being. We can tap into the grounded sense of being with a few deep breaths, leaning back into his robes, setting our head on his knee, his hand touching our face; comforting. There, there. Go ahead and cry.
All stories are welcome here. ‘No advice-giving’ is the only ground rule I can think of; hope there aren’t any others I’ll have to invent later on.