To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.-- C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves
My elder daughter, Julia, spoke with me this morning about the necessity of vulnerability in the grief process. It happens in what seems like an odd combination of detachment and openness…different from shutting down or not feeling. It is a process of feeling your feelings completely but removing your attachment to the pain.
"Your brain wants to occupy you with yourself, keep you preoccupied all of the time with this and that," she said. "Your brain is not taught to remember where you came from and where you are going to, and the fact that death is going to happen to all of us. We have this programming not to go there. Then it gets blown open and it’s scary.
"In that moment you can choose to try to recreate all those walls and veils and try to go back to where you were or you can stand in the nakedness and ask to move through the loss to be shown what is behind the veil. It is amazing how quickly your brain tries to recreate your reality when there is so much pain and suffering. Or you can just stand naked and be blown open. Then you find more loving compassion than you could ever imagine."