“There is something in every
one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It
is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will
all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else
― Howard Thurman
I recently took a detour on my way home from Tiverton, to explore more of the countryside near our home. I encountered very little traffic and enjoyed the sight of the majestic trees lining the road, interspersed with swathes of farmers’ fields. I passed some chicken sheds and realised they belong to the farm that supplies the local shops with the eggs that I usually buy; they are lovely, free range eggs. I saw some hens happily roaming about in the fields, and when I saw a sign ‘Eggs for Sale, next left’ I turned in and stopped the car. The aptly named Egg Shed contained trays of eggs ranging in size from small, through to extra-large. I selected a dozen eggs, enjoying the simple pleasure of choosing them myself. The shed was unattended, and I read the notice above a tray containing money, which said something along the lines of “We don’t have any high-tech chip and pin here, but rely on your honesty to pay the correct amount for your eggs”. I duly put my cash in the tray which looked to contain upwards of £10 and went on my way, happy with my purchase (one could say eggstatic …)
As I drove home, I thought about the concept of the honesty box for payment. How wonderful in these cynical days for there to be sufficient trust for the egg farm to operate this system. I suspect that theft is rare as it is innate in us to respond to others’ trust and faith that we will do the right thing. Indeed, locally there are a couple of small honesty sheds by the roadside, which I have never used, but I often see other drivers stopping there.
It may seem a bit of a leap to correlate honesty egg sales to grieving, but just examine the truth for a moment.
On the few occasions that I have held a newly laid hen’s egg, still warm from the straw, I have been fascinated by how it feels. You can feel a real, honest life force, an energy that tells you this individual egg had the potential to be a living, breathing creature of nature. Is that so very different to the energy of our loved ones? Life force is an intangible, immeasurable quality but we all possess it. Visiting your grief recalls the life force of those for whom you grieve.
The owners of the farm put their eggs out for the customers in trust and faith that they will be honest enough to pay for them when they buy them.
They do not say, “I expect all those eggs will be stolen”. Rather they are likely to say, “That’s another few dozen eggs sold, then” because they have respect for the honesty of people (in general).
When you lose someone, you necessarily put on a brave face. You have to don a daily mask, to get through the toughest of times.
But you can benefit from dropping this artifice.
Let down your guard, be honest, and when someone asks you, “How are you doing today?” instead of saying, “Oh, I am OK thanks”, say “Actually, today is a really rubbish day. I feel heartbroken by my loss and all I want to do is sit in a corner and cry”.
What is the worst that can happen? Well, you have to accept that the friend or colleague who has asked you may be upset or shocked by your honesty. But whilst accepting this, remember that their distress is transient, whilst yours is permanent.
He or she will probably not know what to say in response – but that is their difficulty, not yours.
Is there satisfaction in honest grieving? Yes, I think so because it is coming directly from your heart and soul, when you truthfully drop the pretence that all is well.
There is a truth to stepping up to the pain and heartache which eases the greatest part of the burden.
By acknowledging that you have difficult moments when grief threatens to overwhelm you, you are demonstrating honesty and strength in equal measure.
There really is a simple truth to grief, because you cannot always keep up a facade, much as you may want to. Death has taken place and you cannot undo the action. It is there as a part of your life, and the honesty box that you must pay into is ready to receive your reactions, your memories, your love and above all, your faith that these times can, and will, get better.
Sometimes, you get so used to glossing over the worst of the truth that you begin to believe the fiction yourself. Hard though it is, when you are grieving, there is a need to visit the worst of loss, to walk the darkest path.
Only then can you see the glimmer of light illuminating your road ahead.