On Loss: Taking Stock and Giving Thanks...
Updated: Dec 20, 2019
“You gave me a forever within the numbered days.”
- John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
“So how are you doing?” came the question from one of my friends.
I knew what she was really asking about. The last few weeks seemed daunting: a beloved cousin had passed away… and with that came the resurrection of my own memories about my step-mom’s passing just two months earlier as well as my dad last year. I also had to euthanize a family pet of twelve years and even had to toss out our dear old artificial Christmas tree of fifteen years. It seemed as if parts of my life were leaving…
Ugghh, the weight of the losses seemed palpable, much more than before and I knew it.
But instead of burdening my friend with the details, I replied, “Awck, not so bad. Mercury’s been in retrograde,” I chuckled.
My friend gave me that look like, “What’s that supposed mean?”
I smiled and filled in the awkward silence, “Things have been a little rough, emotionally, lately... but it’s getting better.” My best effort to give a socially appropriate response.
It seemed like an understatement, though, to reduce the accumulation of loss I’d been reeling from into roughly two sentences. What I really wanted to say was “things are just fine,” but these words couldn’t find their way to the surface even if they wanted to. Things internally were not fine, and during these last few weeks, I had been futilely looking for a way to expedite the grieving process.
I knew that wasn’t possible...and if anything, I knew that what I was looking for was a loophole to circumvent the grief... correction: the pain.
Loss, particularly those associated with loved ones, puts us in touch with the deepest part of our hearts. It is no wonder that when we lose a loved one, the pain that we feel is felt like no other, because it emanates from the deepest part of ourselves. Despite our best efforts to move through it, there is no rushing it. Only with the constant revisiting of the sadness and pain are we able to move through our grief.
For it is in touching our pain – not avoiding it, that the heart learns to heal.
It doesn’t mean that we become attached or identified with this pain – it’s quite the opposite. Instead, we learn to allow ourselves to be in touch with the heartache and learn how to hold it with a sense of tenderness and loving-kindness - embracing it much like we would in consoling a wounded child.
In healing, it doesn’t mean we have forgotten our loved ones – that is an impossibility. But instead, their presence in our lives has changed. They are felt in different ways, teaching us different lessons with different means… helping us feel their love in much deeper and more profound ways, giving us insight into yet another dimension to love.
And in that space of love, eternity can be found - for there is no substitute for the treasure of unforgettable moments shared. We are forever joined in love with our loved ones whenever we remember to take stock of what has been shared and to give thanks for the countless memories etched into our hearts.