Vulnerability is defined by dictionary.com as ‘willingness to show emotion or to allow one’s weaknesses to be seen or known; willingness to risk being emotionally hurt’. It is a wonder that anyone would ever allow themselves to be vulnerable. If you are a grieving person who is already in seemingly unbearable pain, why would you ever even want to put yourself in a position where you put yourself at risk for being emotionally hurt? If we believe that definition, we would likely all build a big wall of protection around ourselves trying to hide weakness and prevent further pain.
Oprah Winfrey defines vulnerability in the following way. ‘Vulnerability is being willing to express the truth no matter what, the truth of who you are, the essence at your core of what you’re feeling at any given moment. It’s being able to open up your soul so that others can see their soul in yours’. Wow. That is a definition of vulnerability that is far more appealing.
Being vulnerable is certainly scary, but the blessings can far outweigh the negatives. Opening ourselves up to each other and sharing our weaknesses and pain can actually bring us closer together. A group of a dozen weak grieving parents have far more strength than one strong bereaved parent living in isolation. I think this is why I never sugarcoat grief. I don’t tell everyone that everything is fine and that life will be OK if we just trust there is a grand plan in place. Pretending that living this life of grief is fine just makes us feel isolated. When we admit that we are vulnerable and show our weakness, we allow ourselves to live in community and give each other strength.
On this week’s podcast, Gwen and I share some of our favorite stories about being vulnerable in our grief and the blessings that have come from expressing truth no matter what. Some of the most cherished moments in my life since Andy died have come when I have allowed those around me to see my weakness. I don’t want to be strong. Being strong means that I don’t need other people. I want to be vulnerable. I want to allow others to see their own soul in mine as we walk this journey together.