Grief is the ultimate swim upstream. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I learned from an early age about the wonders of salmon. What stood out to me has always been their journey back to their home streams from the ocean. As they return to the exact stream of their birth, they swim against the current, which often involves flinging their underbellies towards the waves of waterfalls in order to take a hit so immense that they fly up into the air, landing a little bit closer to home each time.
Grieving requires us to swim against the current. If we could all grieve as salmon live, we might understand that our ability to turn towards our own pain, tears, heartache, and suffering with more grace, instead of moving away from it, is how we propel ourselves (and the journey of others) further ahead in grief. Our ability to face our own vulnerability and show up for others, will be the very thing that helps grief to move and change in us.
@MarkNepo writes in his passage The Art of Facing Things (The Book of Awakening, 2011) that “the salmon offer us a way to face truth without shutting down. They show us how leaning into our experience, though we don’t like the hit, moves us on. Time and again, though we’d rather turn away, it is the impact of being revealed, through our willingness to be vulnerable, that enables us to experience both mystery and grace.”
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