Active Reflections on Grief Work
Grief is often thought of as a private and self-centered experience, yet when we openly share our losses and anguish, we weaken the forces that afflict us ranging from moral institutions to the world’s highest churches of technical progress. Indeed, life is a chaotic mixture of fiery passion — one where the shotgun impact tears through the walls of emotional suppression. We relinquish both life and death as they exchange and cross over, move and sing, bringing forth spontaneous tragedies that obliterate the plain regularity of immortality. With every complex emotion sprouting out of grief, we re-emerge celebrating a life that doesn’t require the bankrupt guarantee of futurist eternality. We embrace the tranquilizing quiet songs and claim our lives without hostility and challenge those who deprive us of it. Grief provides a shelter to strengthen human social behaviors that alleviate suffering and improve the overall quality of life. At present, we are swimming in a sea of grief, moving away from “the worst” — globally catalyzed by rising authoritarianism, its immediate alienation, world pandemic, mass displacement of people from their beloved homeland, and the pronounced, structural devastation of the biosphere. We don’t necessarily seem to think about grief when we exchange views on politics. Even the impulse to share the symptoms of grief that arise from bonds of loss and pain, in all political perspectives, is ordered to be hidden away, de-socialized, buried, and repressed till we can expect the sun to rise the next morning. This becomes advantageous for the system that monopolizes social order and produces ‘unnecessary’ losses. Different minds and bodies react differently to crises, traumas, and normal life shocks. They have different productive needs, resist differently, and together create different worlds. This logic of thinking begs us to question how grief diminishes and justifies certain human actions that could have been dealt with confrontation. To be alive and to be human is to face the inevitability of loss and grief. But do we understand the deep fulfillment of grief work or its meaning?
Grief is a normal, healthy, and appropriate response to a loss or change in our lives. It is a process of healing or reconciling, a process that, if successful, leads us through various phases of recovery to a restored sense of wholeness and equilibrium [[i]]. But what exactly are we recovering from? How do we analyze approaches in order to transform and carry our bodies through the systemic issues that are rooted in capitalism, competition, and myriad forms of oppression? How do we honor the dead people who we have lost during the pandemic, how do we practice empathy even during times when people have not understood the brutal nature of the system, or even learn to sit in the complicity of silence for not rebelling hard enough? This conflict inside us has conveniently allowed us to take a neutral position that doesn’t push us to anticipate or imagine a world where we have “actually” buried this system of oppression. Suddenly we are unable to think of a world without cops or get distressed about who will deliver our groceries, or that every person will be able to affirm their livinghood. Grimspoon (1964) noted that “people cannot risk being overwhelmed by the anxiety which might accompany a full cognitive and affective grasp of the present world situation and its implications for the future.” [[ii]] Perhaps, the loss must be faced just like the mysteriousness of human longevity. But it is in such a crisis of monumental proportions that we might turn toward a transformative solution if no longer denied. It leads to a new discovery of life beyond medicated peace (not manufactured by false promises). It leads us to share our feral expressions beyond emotional control; which I like to consider as informed responses to our surroundings. Repression certainly fails to do the job. The evolution we have to make as a species is related to how we learn to mourn and grieve. If we don’t know how to let go, give honor, or perform a ritual, everything builds up in the system and gets subordinated. Many of us who have the capacity to mourn are also those who didn’t have much time and space to take care of our happiness and health. We are not to be blamed; after all, the falsehood of postmodernism is the denial of its loss, the refusal to mourn. We are expected to forever float in the world of surface and simulation, which ensures the “erasure” of the real world and the dissolution of both self and society. It is exactly at this living texture of existence, we can imagine ourselves still wanting to persist and wanting to love each other and find ways to be in a relationship that transcends difference while creating biodiversity.
We are not only necessary to each other but also intimately connected to each other. Not only do I need others, I am others. If “need” was the only factor, then I would have constantly required the presence of a person to tell me that “yes, I really broke the glass,” letting me know about my mistake. Although I need “real” other people at least sometimes to reflect reality to me, even being alone I carry potential others within my own consciousness. I have fully shared my experiences of reacting to loud noises or breaking objects with other people. This phenomenological experience lends itself to the possibility that our consciousness is an interrelated network. Therefore, in any socio-political climate, loss, especially the loss of consciousness that we have been closely associated with for a long time, becomes a disseverance. “I grieve” means stating repeatedly, I believe “what has been done to them.” It is at once a time travel back to a happier place but also a retelling of the most truthful narration beyond death and negation. If we take our conclusions about consciousness as a network, we do lose a part of ourselves, which is why we feel pain. The deeper the interrelation, the more of ourselves we leave in their consciousness, and so other consciousness do with us. In the case of violence, this leads to trauma. In love, it can lead to transcendence. When death comes to those with whom we have interrelated intimate relationships, it deprives us of the possibility of further interrelationships. It takes away the joy of dynamic and unfolding possibilities, leaving austerity of finiteness. Their presence in our memory is personal, that is why it is important to find ways to respect what we still have after the loss. We must cry, get angry, and truly mourn the loss of lasting dynamic relationships, while at the same time finding joy and a sense of sacredness in what we still have. It doesn’t disappear the histories and synthesis of shared experiences, but in fact, acknowledge their service to us. This initiates a whole transformation of our bodies within nature, an embodiment of our fluidic unbridled, emotions to be admired.
[] Coping with Grief. (2019, October 7). Retrieved 10 December 2021, from https://www.lapbc.com/blog/2019
[]Zerzan, J. (2020, October 27). The Age of Grief. Fetelina — Critical Thinking. Retrieved December 10, 2021, from https://www.fetelina.com/the-age-of-grief