Grief Can Turn to JOY and Beautiful Tender Memories If We Let It

March 16, 2016

I lost a dear friend a few weeks ago. Well, I didn’t really lose her. She’s just on another plane. I know that for sure because I sensed her on my walk this morning.

Grief Can Turn to JOY and Beautiful Tender Memories If We Let It

Karen was one of the special ones. You know – the people that show up in your life in the oddest ways, but end up having such an impact that you can’t imagine your life without having known them.

My friend, Karen, was at first, an energy healing client. She’d come to a workshop where I was studying with my teacher, who suggested that we connect because we both lived in NY.

Karen came to that workshop seeking answers to her years-long struggle with multiple Myeloma, a cancer formed by malignant plasma cells.

I don’t know the final count of how much radiation, chemotherapy, and drug trials Karen’s body went through. It was staggering. Way more than I could fathom, being someone who leans so heavily on the side of alternative medicine. I believe she’d already had the disease for ten years when I first met her.

Eventually, Karen became an energy healing student herself, joining our family of healers of which she was still a member when she passed on. We were dear friends and I know without question that she deeply impacted others in our group.

I was forever enthralled with how interesting Karen Ann Polk’s life was. From a journalist at top publications like The Boston Globe and Newsweek to owning a Kung Fu school to becoming a ferry boat captain, Karen certainly led a rich and colorful life. She could converse about anything.

But most of all, she was funny. Oh my God, so funny.

This is what I remember, and this is the memory I choose to carry with me. Not all the suffering I witnessed, because, frankly, Karen handled it with such strength and grace that I had only a glimpse of how painful things really were for her.

I felt like I grieved Karen’s passing numerous times in the past year. She had some close calls and I would see her in my dreams and meditations and feel an uneasiness come over me – as if she was about to leave. And then I’d get a funny text from her and Karen was back!

When the strange phone number appeared last month my heart leapt into my throat. I knew. But even in the sadness of that call that told me Karen had passed, there was a gift. It was her sister, Victoria,  who was calling me, and her voice sounded identical to Karen’s.

Victoria told me that she used to be able to fool Karen’s boyfriends on the phone and we laughed. Now I have a connection with Karen’s sister(s) and so Karen will live on, and I’ll get to hear that special Karen-voice that was more often than not, tinged with humor.

When my parents passed away many years ago I wasn’t really schooled in the handling of grief. I did what many of us do and tucked my emotions deep down inside of me.

But when my partner, Ralph, passed away almost five years ago, I had suffered through some pretty major life events (with their own element of grief) and had opened myself up to the “world” beyond this plane. I was a believer.

So when Ralph suddenly died I was in a much different place. I grieved my loss deeply. I gave myself time. I released bucket upon bucket of tears.

Eventually, the waves of sorrow became less and less and I started to feel things more from a place of beautiful tender memories.

Now, when I think about Ralph, it’s Joy, not sorrow, that prevails.

This is a phenomenon that not everyone experiencing grief is fortunate enough to know. My heart hurts for those who are so trapped in their grief that they never experience the Joy of beautiful memories and the gifts that our loved ones leave behind for us.

I know that I’m not alone, though, in my experience. A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to meet a fellow energy healing student who had suffered the loss of her beloved husband in a tragic plane crash. Stacey had two young children at the time.

We talked a great deal about grief. We’d lost touch over the years, but, lo and behold, the same day I was writing this article, I received an email with a link to her new website, and all that she’d been up to. There are no coincidences.

Click here if you’d like to read Stacey’s beautiful story.

There’s so much impermanence in life and we are so uncomfortable with that.

Meditation has been a huge factor in my own shift. It can help you live for today, without the shackles of the past, or the future.

We have to let go if we are to experience Joy again. It’s there for the taking. When we’re ready.

Of course, I have to add one little note, from an Ayurvedic perspective. Keeping in mind that we are all a wonderful mix of the doshas and that this is a somewhat generalized statement. But it might help you understand why it’s harder for you to let go and move on, or why it’s possible.

People with a lot of Vata in their constitution generally have the easiest time of moving on, being comfortable with change in their life, not being stuck in the past. This is me, and I am forever grateful to have this trait as perhaps it is the reason I’ve been able to see the Joy in grief more easily than others.

People with a lot of Pitta in their constitution are okay with change, but they often fall into a place of anger and resentment when loss comes knocking at their door. Pitta-types tend to say “Why me?” They also don’t like feeling out-of-control.

And those who are heavily Kapha, by nature, have perhaps the hardest time “letting go and moving on”. No one can get stuck in the past more than a Kapha-type person. And they have memories like an elephant. Kapha people can get deeply mired in grief.

Not sure about your Ayurvedic constitution? Click here.

As I set out on my walk I was thinking about Karen. I could hear her voice in my ear. I turned on my iPod and the first song that played was “Somebody Told Me (to deliver this message…)” by Teddy Pendergrass. Ralph used to play that song over and over at his restaurant. I got the good kind of goosebumps and smiled.

I have to wonder if Ralph and Karen are “up there” or “out there” comparing notes on me. What would they say? One thing I know for sure – they would absolutely love each other.

Joy and beautiful tender memories. That’s my choice. And I wish the same for you.

Much love,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *