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Finding Strength in Times of Sorrow

Liberty Statue in Budapest - Photo by Diana Ensign

“First of all, grieving is okay.” —Cheri (Stephens) Walter (HEART GUIDE, in memory of her parents).

 “Find ways to take care of yourself, and don’t set expectations for yourself. There’s absolutely no right or wrong way to grieve.” —Justin Phillips (HEART GUIDE, in memory of her son).

In Western culture, we sometimes equate strength with the images from movies: the tough-talking men who wield commando weapons or the heroes and heroines who destroy villains with supernatural forces. Despite the popularity of these movies, that is not the kind of strength we need for most of life’s challenges. While strength can mean putting on our game face, that’s also not what I’m referring to here. The strength we call upon during times of despair is completely different.

On a journey through sorrow, our greatest trials—as well as our source of courage—often reside deep within the depths of our very soul.

Strength is not the armory we erect to protect ourselves. On the contrary, true daring may mean letting our guard down long enough to allow our emotions to come through, with tender self-compassion; rather than fending them off with unhealthy coping habits. Being completely honest about our feelings can take tremendous bravery on our part. We may need dauntless resolve to simply be fully present in the moment.

Make no mistake: Acknowledging intense heartache is the mark of a spiritual warrior.

Such a warrior summons the might of a ground-shaking mama bear roar; she releases the penetrating howl of a lone wolf in the dark forest of the night; and, at daybreak, heeds the insistent call of the hawk circling high above.

Inner strength appears in gentler moments as well: while watching a candle softly flicker, or while listening to birdsong in the early morning mist, or while noticing the autumn breeze shaking the leaves from their branches.

With sorrow, the sun’s warmth and the passing clouds become our strength. The songs we sing, the paint we splash on a canvass, the words we pour forth in poems, or the free-flowing movement of our bodies as we dance across the floor become our strength.

Our inner strength is always there. It is there while we clear the fog of our minds. It is there while we heal the ache of our soul. It is there in the calm as well as in the rumblings of a fierce storm.

It is there in the quiet of our heart.

It is there in the holding on and in the letting go.

More importantly, our strength is there in the people who love and support us: the friends, family members, and neighbors who remind us that we do not have to carry our burdens alone.

Peace & love,

Diana Ensign

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