Here in the U.S. we celebrate the Fourth of July as Independence Day. It is the day that Congress approved a Declaration of Independence from British rule. It marks the birth of our nation as a free, self-governing entity. The Declaration asserts that everyone has the right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” and claims that when any form of governance “becomes obstructive to these ends,” it is our right “to alter or to abolish it.”
When grief has reigned as king in our lives for too long, it may be that we, too, need to declare our independence and reclaim our inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.
Claiming freedom is only the first step. Like this country’s forefathers, we may have to fight to win our freedom. The energy of grief (one form of what don Miguel Ruiz might call “the parasite” or Eckhart Tolle might call “the pain body”) will fight to hold on. It does not want to be vanquished. And there are factions within the psyche, just as there were colonies and individuals in our early nation, who may wish to remain loyal to the current king.
In the case of grief, we may feel that remaining loyal to the pain is the only way to remain loyal to our deceased loved ones. But would we wish for anyone who loves us to be in constant pain? Why would our deceased loved ones ask for such cruel loyalty? We would honor them better by living our lives to the fullest, freeing ourselves from pain and pursuing happiness and joy full steam ahead.
I know this isn’t easy, especially in the early days of grief. There is no timetable or deadline and everyone’s journey will be different. However, for me, there came a day when I recognized that if I ever expected to feel “normal” again, I had to make a conscious choice and effort to reclaim joy. Grief had become a tyrant under whose thumb I languished. I was tired of telling the story of my loss and tired of feeling victimized by it. I was ready to be free. Are you?
Reclaiming the right to feel happiness is an act of power and an act of faith. Declaring independence from grief is not a one-time choice; it is a commitment to consistently choosing life and joy, day by day and minute by minute. It is well worth the fight.
So here, very loosely based on the original Declaration, I propose a Declaration of Independence from Grief:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one person to experience the loss of another who was Deeply Loved, pain and sadness naturally result. And while it behooves us to feel what we feel and to mourn our losses, there comes a time when the Kingdom of Grief becomes a Tyranny best left behind.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that we have a Right to live fully even though our Loved One has passed, that our Loved One would rather be honored with Laughter and Love than with tears, that while Life will always be different now it can still be Joyful and Fulfilling, and that we have the Freedom and the Power to choose Happiness.
We therefore, as self-sovereign individuals, solemnly publish and declare that we have a Right to be free of the Rule and Tyranny of Grief, that we have the Right and the Will to fight for that Freedom, and that we will emerge Victorious and at Peace within ourselves.
Won’t you join me this day in signing the Declaration? By doing so, you will be creating your own personal Independence Day, and that is truly something to celebrate.