This is an excerpt from Wanderlust: A Modern Yogi’s Guide to Discovering Your Best Self, a curation of ideas and practices from master yogis, provocative thinkers, mind-body experts, cutting-edge artists and innovative business leaders. Order your copy at wanderlust.com/wanderlust-book-discover-your-best-self/.
Grief is non-discriminatory, often inconvenient, can hit us like a brick, render our lives utterly and infinitely transformed, and open us to levels of vulnerability, tenderness, and even gratitude. It is so raw, so inexpressible, that it can only truly be considered—unapologetically, perfectly, blindingly—as purely human and ultimately unavoidable if we live long enough to endure both the pain and the joy that is this life.
My father died in 2010 after a long, brutal struggle with cancer that left his body ravaged, his soul exposed and, us, his tiny family, bewildered in the strange toss up between acceptance and disbelief. He held me once, not too long before that was physically impossible, and told me I would never again feel so ripped open. “Remember this feeling,” he told me, as I studied the new tumor on his shoulder that I could swear wasn’t there just hours before, “your grief will either consume you or set you free. It won’t feel this way right now because you’re in it,” he said, “but you will come through, you will heal, you will grow and you will be grateful.” I told him to go fuck himself and we laughed hard, until we cried, at the horror of it all and the beauty that we knew we would both one day come to understand. Me, as I struggled to let him go. Him, as he accepted he had no choice but to.
I won’t pretend to understand your heartbreak, your loss, or the power of your grief. I will never say, “I know just how you feel.” I don’t. I only know how my grief felt and I honor that place in you that tastes some version of that sadness. I do know that if you have the strength to sit side by side with it, breathe into it, open yourself up to the wave after wave after wave of impossible and sometimes conflicting emotions that arise—healing is possible.
One of my father’s last requests of me was that I was to eulogize him at his funeral. I stood there, my father’s wasted body in the coffin behind me, and looked around the room into the eyes of the different expressions of grief staring back at me. I saw devastation in my grandmother. I saw relief in my mother. I saw anger in my brother. I saw numbness in many. I took a breath and said, “I always knew this moment would happen, that I would stand before you all and say goodbye to my father, and I knew it would be hard. But I underestimated the intensity of this moment. It is beyond hard. The pain I feel is worse than I imagined and my grief feels palpable. But to grieve this hard can only mean that in this lifetime I got to love that big…and for that I am grateful.”
May your journey through your own grief awaken you to levels of knowing, empathy, and peace that frees your own soul, opens you to love big, and allows you to embrace the beauty, the sweetness, and the unbearable, but glorious, impermanence of it all.
Photo by Ali Kaukas
Seane Corn is an internationally celebrated yoga teacher known for her impassioned activism, unique self-expression, and inspirational style of teaching. Featured in commercials, magazines, NPR, and Oprah.com, Seane now utilizes her national platform to bring awareness to global humanitarian issues. In 2007, she began training leaders of activism through her co-founded organization Off the Mat, Into the World®. Seane has spent time in the US, India, Cambodia, Africa, Ecuador and Haiti working with communities in need—teaching yoga, providing support for child labor and the environment, and educating people about HIV/AIDS prevention. Seane is also co-founder of the Seva Challenge Humanitarian Tours, which have raised over $4.5 million since 2007, getting the yoga community involved in fund and awareness raising efforts across the globe.