BOOK REVIEW: Grief: A Dark Sacred Time by Darrelyn Gunzburg.
GRIEF: A Dark Sacred Time by Darrelyn Gunzburg. Flying Horse Books, PO Box 9307, Swanage, BH19 9BF, England. Trade Paper. 200 Pages. Bibliography. Index. £14.00, $22.40.
I enjoyed reading this book. It is well written and well researched. Though it is a work of non-fiction at times her prose soars into poetry.
Who hasn’t been touched by grief? It comes to all of us sooner or later. We could say that life itself is very much about dealing with grief. The way we deal with grief will determine how we live our lives. There are all kinds of grief that happens to a person. Here she deals (mostly) with the grief of death the death of a loved one, a parent, lover, child, sibling etc. But there are many forms of grief. Some not so dramatic. Some are merely the annoyances of everyday life. The plumber overcharges you. The girl/guy you loved doesn’t love you. There is a spat with the beloved and mean things are said. One is separated from family members. I have seen people grieve over movements in the stock market and over financial loss. All these things can catapult a person into a negative state. Of course, death is the more serious kind of grief.
There is much insight here. She shows the effect of grief on the physical body. People in grief are more prone to physical type ailments. She understands the mind-body connection involved here. She explains why it is dangerous to repress grief – it needs to be expressed – it shouldn’t stay in the psyche. She explains the problems of unresolved grief – many diseases can be traced to that. (In my opinion cancer is the result of unresolved grief – but grief that was there for a long, long time – sometimes thousands of years.)
She takes a psychological approach to grief. One must go through the process. Talk to a therapist or understanding kind of person. One must allow time to go through the grieving process. Sometimes up to 5 years. But this is case by case. For sure these ways will work, but they are very time consuming. In the meantime one is basically out of commission. (And if not out of commission at a lowered rate of mental and physical capacity.)
Perhaps there is another way – a way that doesn’t deny the author’s insights – but which achieves the same result. This is the way of higher consciousness.
I met my teacher as I was sitting “shiva1” for my brother. He died a horrible death. There was much suffering. He had incurable cancer. My teacher came to my home. I was unshaven and unkempt. My shirt was torn as prescribed by law2. He came in, did some spiritual healing on me and said, with a tone of disgust – “get up! You don’t need this!” So I did. Later as I started to study regularly with him, he showed me how to deal with this.
The way of higher consciousness is about looking at an event from a higher place in ourselves – from the place of super consciousness or as religious people might say – the place of the Divine. Yes, one will feel the pain, the anguish and the hosts of emotions that happen during grieving. But with a difference. One will have, eventually, a higher understanding of the event. We are separate from the event. Yes, the feelings are there and they play themselves out. But the person is watching from above. It is like watching a storm at sea. One doesn’t need to wait 5 years to see “the end of the tunnel” – it is seen rather quickly (it is all case by case). In this consciousness we see that the Higher Consciousness doesn’t grieve. Grieving is of the lower mind – the mortal mind – the 3D mind – which believes that it is somehow diminished by a particular event. We find that the grieving is mostly based on false assumptions – assumptions about life, reality and one’s true nature. The higher consciousness is eternally happy and harmonious. Also while in higher consciousness, solutions and thoughts will come in that allay the grief. This is not repression – the feelings are allowed free rein – but the interpretation of things is totally different.
I very much enjoyed her reference to the myth of Menelaus and Proteus3. But I have a different take on it. After a harrowing experience with Proteus, who keeps changing his shape and trying to elude Menelaus’ grasp, he tells Menelaus that the reason for his travails was that he neglected to sacrifice properly to the gods. So Menelaus makes his sacrifices and is released from his travails immediately. What if Menelaus had done this from the outset? Wouldn’t he have been spared all the grief? Yes. It wouldn’t have been necessary. And so it is with us. Much of the grief we encounter comes from not “sacrificing” properly to the Divine – not honoring it enough – not being connected enough. The solution? Get connected as soon as possible.
We live in a psychological age these days. There are many, many people on this path. This book is for them. It is well worth reading.
1 This is the prescribed mourning period among Jews when one has lost someone close.
2 It is forbidden to shave or shower during the shiva period and one cannot even sit on a normal chair. The clothing must be torn.
3 The Odyssey