The Alternate Reality of Grief and Grace (Arogg)
I remember fumbling around New York City in a cloud of confusion and grief in 2019.
One evening, three months after the funeral, all it took for me to disintegrate like unset Jell-O was a chargrilled slice of green pepper.
And the location of this disintegration with zero degrees of dignity was a Mexican restaurant on the corner of Malcolm X and 119th in Harlem, NY. This was just the first of many grief outbursts and public displays of emotion which caused the people around me to turn their heads away in discomfort or in extreme cases shrink away from me in revulsion.
This is one of many ways grief ambushes and pulls you into one of her realms.
The death of a loved one catapults you into a place I like to call "The Alternate Reality of Grief and Grace (Arogg). This is a reality that remains largely in the shadows because most people don’t dare to explore it due to the fear of death and terror of the unknown.
Most people in mainstream culture have heard of its darker sides: the excruciating pain that its inhabitants have to endure and in its more debilitating aspects the lingering suffering that can morph into depression, complicated grief, and PTSD.
But this is only half of a story that is as old as humanity. In the last 25 years, psychologists have started talking about the mysterious and other half of the story which they refer to as post-traumatic growth (PTG) or a place I like to call Lsogg(Light Side of Grief and Grace).
Although ~175k people die every day in the world, there are no maps or roadmaps that help us navigate this reality we have been thrust into until now…
At Grief Dances, you will find resources to help you navigate the labyrinth patterns of grief:
- Discover a map of grief to orient, stabilize, and help you navigate the terrifying terrain of Arogg and see what lies ahead of you
- Learn everything you need to know about grief – its language, currency, and modes of transportation
- Find resources to nourish, nurture, empower, and support you during your most difficult moments
- Embark on grief quests and campaigns that provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to navigate the different spirals and realms of grief
- Connect with other inhabitants of Arogg who can support you, because they understand exactly what you are experiencing
Map of Arogg – An overview
When most people think of grief, they usually think of emotional outbursts like crying, or the Kubler Ross 5 stages of grief like denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But grief is so much more than this.
Grief is multi-dimensional. It causes injury at all levels of your being – physically, emotionally, cognitively, existentially, and interpersonally/socially, but without a constellation map of grief, your reactions and responses might make you think you are going crazy. You can feel lost, frightened, and disoriented especially as you enter this new territory of grief. But with the map of Arogg, you have a path to follow: you now have agency and personal power.
In Arogg, the different realms and locales reference the different faces or manifestations of grief. For example, the emotional realm includes all the different emotions present in grief. In essence, it is a map of the different ways grief affects the body, emotions, mind, soul, and social relationships, with the goal to orient you to what is happening so that you can find your bearings and navigate your way to calmer states.
Explore the universe of Arogg below.
The landing zone is the starting point for all new arrivals to Arogg, and its main purpose is to help you find your bearings in grief. You might have just lost your person and have no idea what to do next or how to navigate grief or you might have been on this journey for many years but are just now becoming aware that there is an orientation center.
Either way, use this zone as your compass and GPS to help you navigate the universe of Arogg.
- Orientation Center: Overview of the universe of Arogg (you are here).
- Information Center: Information about what to expect in grief, FAQs, and quick coping tips.
- Resource Center: Practical tools and resources like podcasts, community, books, playlists, meditations, breathwork, books, movies, etc. to support your grief journey.
Arogg has 8 main realms corresponding to the different ways grief affects you. The locations/locales in each realm refer to the different grief symptoms a person can experience. Learn more about the realms of grief here.
- Anticipation Realm
- Shock Realm
- Physical Realm
- Emotional Realm
- Cognitive Realm
- Existential Realm
- Social Realm
Other Points of Interest
1. Healing Havens
The healing havens are also a largely unexplored area of Arogg. This is where you will find roadmaps and rituals to help you navigate the different realms of grief.
When the world feels out of control and you are wracked with a profound sense of helplessness, powerlessness, and existential disorientation, rituals can act as your personal response and recovery team and deliver the vital support you need.
The healing haven is made up of 4 main areas below.
- Stabilization Sanctuary: Rituals to ground, soothe, and turn off the flight/fight/freeze response in your body
- Grief Immersion Halls: Rituals to help you process and navigate the different realms of grief through grief campaigns and quests
- Restoration & Renewal Sanctuary: Rituals to offer you respite, nourish & nurture you as well as provide you with a lifeline when things feel hopeless
- Interconnection Corridors: Rituals to help you reconnect with your person that died, existential forces, and the millions of other bereaved people who are also local inhabitants of Arogg
Every realm has a library that includes helpful articles and books that will provide you with more information about what is happening to you from a scientific and psycho-spiritual perspective.
Explore libraries in the different realms of Arogg. With awareness of what is happening to you, comes empowerment and agency. You breathe easy knowing you are not alone and that there are pathways through the labyrinth terrain of grief.
3. Coping Citadels
Each realm also has a coping citadel that provides you with resources and roadmaps on how to cope with the specific grief symptoms of that realm.
Portals are lifelines out of different realms into areas of respite. These are shortcuts that I have found to help you navigate grief. For example, when you are in the pits of despair, how do you navigate to reprieve and hope?
You might not know this, but Arogg is populated with over 400 million inhabitants with ~ 875,000 new arrivals every day. As you begin to find and connect with other locals who you can relate to because you experienced similar losses like the death of a mother, child, or spouse you will realize that you never have to explain or suppress or sanitize your grief because everyone here gets grief. Everyone has experienced the devastation that the death of a loved one causes.
Arogg has a language that almost all its inhabitants intuitively understand because they experienced the death of someone important in their life. This is the language of empathy and compassion.
You will be able to find people you can talk to, cry, vent to, and express your grief aches to. People who can hold space and validate your experiences because they too are either living it now or have lived through it.
To survive in Arogg, you need community and connection, not as a luxury but as necessities like water and food. Grief responds to three main things – awareness, attention, and expression and you will find this through the community of locals who you can embark on grief campaigns and quests with.
- We need to shine the light of awareness on our grief and hold it in front of us and not pretend that we are fine because the people around us are uncomfortable with our emotions.
- We need attention and connection with people who understand our grief and can relate to it because they have experienced a similar loss. We need people who speak the language of empathy and can listen, acknowledge, and validate our experiences as well as provide encouragement and peer support.
- We need to express the wild and eruptive moods of our grief. We need a safe space where they can rant, rave, vent, and express all their feelings authentically without having to sanitize their pain for fear of being judged and labeled as overly emotional or crazy.
Most people feel stuck when they experience different emotions like anger and rage or physical issues like insomnia, aches & pains, or brain fog because no one taught us how to grieve. How to move from nightmares to peaceful nights or from anxiety to a state of calm.
In Arogg, rituals are the way we move from one area to the next. For example, a crying ritual will transport you from a place of uncontrollable tears and heartbreak to a place of serenity and calm in the healing havens in 90 minutes or less.
When the world feels out of control and you are wracked with a profound sense of helplessness, powerlessness, and existential disorientation, allow rituals to transport you to the healing havens.
Contrary to popular belief, grief is not linear, and it does not happen in stages and as part of my journey, I created a roadmap through grief called grief dances which includes a 7-spiral journey through grief. Refer to this article for more information, but see a summary below
- Spiral 0 – Anticipation Spiral
- Spiral 1 – Crisis Spiral (Stabilization)
- Spiral 2 – Broken Open spiral (Coping skills)
- Spiral 3 – Reconciliation Spiral (Active Grieving -Immersion/Distraction)
- Spiral 4 – Reconstruction Spiral (Rebuilding/rewriting)
- Spiral 5 – Return Spiral (Reintegrating into society)
- Spiral 7 – Resilience Spiral (Map making for future journeys)
- Spiral 8 – Reunion Spiral (Re-membering who you are and reconnecting with your dead loved one)
A grief campaign is a roadmap through a spiral of grief that includes a collection of rituals and grief quests to support your grieving journey.
Each campaign includes a collection of rituals that can offer you a practical roadmap with step-by-step instructions on how to cope with grief reactions on a moment-to-moment basis. For example, Stabilization rituals like grounding rituals can provide you with emergency shelter when you have a panic attack in the middle of a grocery store or mourning rituals that can help you navigate those mornings when you wake up in terror realizing that your loved one is really gone.
Each campaign also includes grief quests that can be completed during the campaign or when you are ready. If a campaign is a degree like a bachelor’s degree, a grief quest is a course. These are guidebooks that span shorter periods of time (anywhere from a day to ~ 3 months) that help you complete specific grief milestones like “surviving the funeral”, or “creating a support network”
The only way out is through
I am sorry that death came to your door and snatched someone that was precious to you. The important question is not why did it happen, but how do we survive?
Together, as a community, we can face our grief which is the consequence of our big love and person find ways to be more expansive versions of ourselves that contain this new story.