Improvisation and Loss Part Two

This is a series, please read part one HERE.

Tell the story and add history.

Grief can be a silent state of being. Early on when we are grieving, we might be totally numb and silent. Much of our early vocalization is through plain crying, screaming, sobbing and the most simple expressions of agony. There may come a day, however, when the silence or the instinctive utterances are no longer enough to serve you. You hunger to talk about the one that is gone to people. You need to start talking, at the very least as a way to make sense out of what you have been through.

In our culture, people do not want to talk about losses. There is little cultural endurance for the material you are working through. Often we can find ourselves isolated and alone.

Another way to understand the work of the grieving person is to understand the cycle that you have entered into. Think about it this way - most people's lives are in an acceleration mode. When we have a loss, much of out lives shift into deceleration mode, apart from any early frenetic activities that must be conducted around administrating the loss. If we use the illustration of improv again - we have an ensemble of members on our team. There is a slowing, a necessary pause because a member of our ensemble is gone. There is a shuffling of roles, canceled "performances" and confusion. A certain energy has departed. The stage might be "dark" as they say in theater terms. It is a state of slowing.

No one else's life may have slowed like yours... As Robert Frost aptly said: "And they, since they were not the one dead, turned to their affairs."

Again, no one can tell you when, but there may be a day when you feel muted and the silence may hold you back. Everyone's life may still be accelerating. If you do not have a community to begin to talk about your losses with, or that is not sufficient for your needs, PLEASE contact me for ideas. There are many places for you to talk that are safe, non-judgemental and caring.

Give lots of information to your many partners on this journey of loss. In improv theater, stronger scenes are built on team work and the scene tells a rich and complex story. In life, stronger communities are built on sharing in depth as opposed to silence. Grief can be a silent state of being. There ARE people who want to hear your story. They want to tell theirs as well. We can all take space to tell our stories and know others stories.

Whenever you are ready.

For storytelling, some improv teachers suggest focusing on the past and present tense as often as possible. They suggest actors avoid talking too much about the future. Things in the future only might happen, they only might shape your character. It is conjecture. Things in the past and present did happen, they did shape you.

(Note: Some losses require us to really actively problem-solve our futures, because we cannot delay - the loss wiped out an essential part of our daily lives and we cannot delay decisions. Other losses have less of a daily impact on the function of our lives.)

Try and take time, if you can, to tell your story among compassionate companions. Look for meaning-making within the story. Your story will grow to support you. Our stories have power. We need to practice telling them in a safe environment where there is a lot of acceptance.

Mark Twain had an adage that history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. In telling your story you will start to have an ear for the rhyming.

Summary of Parts One and Two... Flow with the Change

Life, like improv is about flow and change. The characters in a scene must experience some type of change for the scene to progress. Characters need to go on journeys, be altered by revelations, experience the ramifications of their choices and be moved by emotional moments. Improv music needs to move, to ebb and flow to be more than a static, droning sound.

I used to say, "The world belongs to people who can change." I never knew how much I would live into that particular phrase, my friends. My list of losses are pretty profound when you put them on paper, but I have found that this is not the end of the scene. We are alive and mortal. We have a chance to befriend impermanence and truly be present to life and death. And if we can improvise with the story that surrounds us, we can find a new level of peace.