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Hi, I wanted to start this discussion to get some thoughts from people on various books, songs, poems, etc. that have been helpful in either opening up the ability to stay in a moment of grief and simply be, or in moving away from grief towards wholeness.  Please share your thoughts knowing that something you suggest may provide a lifeline to someone out there who is moving through the Via Negativa and not at the point of coming forward.


I am currently reading "Grit and Grace" by Ken Wilber about the illness and death of his wife Treya.  I haven't gotten very far, but I did read one interesting passage yesterday.  After getting through the initial shock of Treya's diagnosis of cancer, and the initial questions of "Why me? Why now?"  Treya and Ken decided to come up with a list of ideas of things she wanted to change in her life.  Not in anticipation of dying, or as some last hope, or out of guilt.  But simply as a way to express herself, her goals and her self-identity in the face of darkness.  A philosophy of "if not now, when?" as they wear on the staff t-shirts at my local YMCA.  What struck me was that she was able to use this diagnosis as a turning point to come more into her own as an individual while still being realistic about her illness and the possibility of death.  She accepted the illness, took it into herself, and transformed it into something useful. 


Another discussion I found very interesting was Ken's discussion of illness vs. sickness - how illness would be the actual medical or complementary therapies used to address the physical symptoms, whereas sickness was the attitudes and myths about the illness held by society and medical community.  He points out, very articulately, that there is a big difference - and that often we can't see that difference, especially when we are right in the middle of things when seriously ill or dealing with the illness of a family member.  Ken discusses how crucial it is to work to see this difference so that you can set your own priorities in dealing with the choices that lie ahead.  This really resonated for me as someone who believes we can work with symbols, archtypes, etc. to redefine them once we understand what meaning they already have in a given context. 


I look forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions!  Thanks!

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Replies to This Discussion

Did you finish reading "Grace and Grit"? I found this to be a very powerful death/transformation experience. I also resonated with the account of Stuart Davis (Kid Mystic) in Wilber's novel "Boomeritis". It is the story of his finding a transcendental experience through sex and losing that lover. Boomeritis is an attempt at writing the "postmodern novel" and is full of twist and turns with reflexivity, blurring the lines of fact and fiction, and flatland characters. The inclusion of Stuart's story is interesting because Ken's ex-wife, Marcia, married Stuart.

I should be able to think of many books that do what you are seeking. Many are fictional books for children!
Katherine Patterson: Bridge to Terabithia, The Great Gilly Hopkins and Jacob Have I Loved.

Another fictional book for adults is The Poisonwood Bible. This is the Via Negativa but each of the four daughters of missionaries to the Congo take and describe their own very different journeys on that path.
I really benefited from a group using The Grief Recovery Handbook. It is a non-religious walk through grief with the ultimate result being forgiveness (of self and others) and release of the grief. There is an embracing of the experience of grief, a value placed on the gifts that the journey through grief brings, and the healing process of walking through it in an I-Thou relationship with others also on the path.



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