What’s left in Pandora’s Box?
From ancient Greek mythology you may have heard of the legend of Pandora’s Box. Zeus with help from the other Gods created a beautiful woman as his daughter whose dowry was contained in magical box that she was instructed never to open. Pandora was the first woman who was created and she was to marry Prometheus the Titan who had created man.
Prometheus was the champion for mankind and he had stolen fire from Zeus to give to man use so that he could grow and prosper. Zeus enraged at the theft punished Prometheus by presenting his daughter to his brother Epimetheus to marry.
One night Pandora woke Epimetheus up and told him she had opened the box and all this pestilence, evils, and disease flew out before she could close the lid. Epimetheus went to the box and opened it to see for himself. He found that the box was not quite empty. There was one thing left inside…hope.
On our grief journey following the death of a loved one we find ourselves lost in a sea of despair. The evils of Pandora’s Box were unleashed into our lives and the lid slammed shut without any hope.
When our dreams are shattered hope seems elusive; even to survive it seems we are dishonoring our loved one. How do we find hope again?
It seems we have to go back to Pandora’s Box and open it once again to look for hope. We walk back into the dragons den of our fears; we face the dragon of death that took our loved one from us. We look at the pain and horror that has overtaken our life and identify the fears that keep us from finding hope. Our fear of forgetting, our fear of healing, our fear of not grieving, our fear of a meaningless future, our fear of laughing again, our fear of our own apathy, all fears that keep us in our cocoon of grief and safe from the reality of a harsh world.
Finding hope is risky business, finding hope takes work, finding hope takes commitment, finding hope takes faith. Hope without faith is mere optimism, faith is the fire on the candle of hope that sheds light in the darkness of despair. With hope kindled by faith and intention we can remove our fears one at a time by facing them and incorporating them into our daily experience.
Fear of forgetting is addressed by sharing our story with all that will listen and even to those that do not, we keep our loved ones name in the present tense, we remove the word had, and insert have. I have two children; one who lives in Red Wing MN, the other one abides in places only dreamed of.
We have the fear of healing because we are afraid if we lose the pain we are somehow getting over it; so we pick the scab from our wound to keep it fresh; give me the pain if that is all I have left. Fear of healing can be assuaged by creating a legacy in the honor of our loved one. To create a legacy we need our health, our strength and our spirit.
Our fear of not grieving enough, not mourning correctly or not exhibiting affectations of mourning can be challenged by immersion into the grief. Watch home movies, look at photo albums, watch Hallmark and other tear-jerker movies, tell life stories and the death story; catalyze the tears in any way you can, give yourself the opportunity and permission to actively lament, cry and even rage. Our fear of a meaningless future can be removed by planting seeds. Some seeds sprout immediately, some lay dormant for years; some seeds need the heat of a forest fire to bring them to life; now scorched by the fires of your loss, long dormant seeds may emerge. Talents laying deep within may show themselves in the continual struggle to survive. We just have to watch for them and nurture them; they are our future.
Our fear of laughing again can be addressed by simply watching a funny movie, being around children, be with friends who make you laugh, wear a red clown nose to work, allow people to laugh with you, it’s contagious and you will laugh in the process. Take a risk to be silly. Laughter is a free and natural anti-depressant with no side effects.
Our fear of our own apathy can be conquered by serving someone else’s needs above your own. In any way, no matter how small the act is, it can neutralize apathy immediately. Apathy is probable the most deleterious state of being to our emotional, spiritual and physical health and the biggest barrier in find hope. Give and you shall receive; and you shall receive hope.
The world, our life and our grief journey are all an allegory to Pandora’s Box. Most people who remember the legend only remember the evils that were let out of the box to plague mankind. We tend to forget the most important teaching is what was left in the box for us to find on our own. In opening the box once again we return to self, no longer looking for what we have lost but going back and discovering what we have left. It all starts with finding hope.
“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future”
-Robert H. Schuller