Your soul is in two worlds at once
It is difficult to have a soul that resides both in the physical and the spiritual world at the same time. The part of the soul that lives in the physical world tends to get caught up in the trivialities of the physical world. We sometimes begin to lose perspective of the deeper more important aspects of the soul that tend to reside in the more spiritual part of the soul. Sometimes it takes tragedies in our worldly life to make us aware of the more important aspects of life like gratitude, compassion, and kindness. Grief and depression are longing for a part of the soul we feel is lost for ever. A longing for something we cannot have again. Maybe it is not gone for ever but just hidden in a deeper part of the soul and the tragedies in life that cause grief and depression are offering clues on how to recover the joy that we feel is lost forever.
Wallace Stevens Quote
The American poet Wallace Stevens once said "The way through the world is more difficult to find than the way beyond it." These words ring true to the grieving heart. We are the ones left behind to try to navigate the world without the person we thought would be with us as our companion on this journey. Now we are left dazed and confused without them, wondering how we will make it through without them. They now have the easier task of being reunited with their loving creator. As painful as it is to try to go on without them in this world, don't we as loving parents want the very best for them. What could be better for them than being able to be held in the loving arms of their creator, and to still be our spiritual guides through this physical world until we are able to be reunited with them again in the world beyond,
CBS News Video
I saw this video today and it really hit me. It has the three things that I think are key for healing after a loss.
1. Doing something to honor of your loved one
2. Making a decision that you want to get better.
3. Allowing your compassionate heart to express itself in the world.
The pain of grief
I think that early grief is so painful we just want the pain to end. Pain is not a pleasant experience and its function is mainly to let us know that something is wrong or out of balance with our bodies. Unfortunately, it also tends to cloud the mind. It does not let you focus on anything else but the pain. You begin to say things like: " This won't go away.", "I can't take this any more.", "I don't want to live like this anymore". These statements start a repetitive cycle that gets us stuck in our pain which leads to suffering. We do what we need to do to try to get brief relief from the pain, but in the blink of an eye it seems as if it is back. This is the body letting us know that it is still not back to normal. It has experienced a tremendous trauma and it will take take time to heal and bring it self back into balance. Eventually, we have to come to a point where we can gain enough strength to no longer resist the pain, but we can begin to explore the pain to see where it takes us. We then can begin to change our minds so we can say things like, "I can." and "I will." We have endured the darkness of the cocoon and have re-emerged in the light as a butterfly, just like our children who have made the transformation from the physical nature of this life to the spiritual life of the next.
It cuts like a knife
When you lose your child, it cuts like a knife. The wound it opens is extremely painful, probably like no pain you have ever experienced before in your life. Any wound usually creates pain and requires time to be able to heal. Pain is a natural consequence of trauma to our bodies. Pain is not a pleasant experience and our initial response to it is to try anything to make it go away. It also generally brings with it fear and anxiety which tend to hinder our ability to breathe deeply. Shallow breathing tends to add to our fear and anxiety which exacerbates our pain. If we can try to remember to try to breathe deeply, it will definitely help with the fear and anxiety, but the pain of the loss will still exist. In early grief, any coping mechanism that will give us some relief is probably okay as long it is not hurting yourself or others. There comes a point in your grieving, and the timing of this is different for everyone, when you must make the decision that you want to heal and not continue to suffer, Suffering is different from pain. Pain is an involuntary reaction to the loss of our loved one, but suffering is a voluntary action which is just trying to resist or hang on to the pain. You must find the strength to sit with your pain and follow it to where it will lead you. This is the only way you will be able to heal. The more you try to resist the pain the more you will suffer.
Elizabeth Lesser Quote
I read this today in a book written by Elizabeth Lesser and I thought it beautifully described later grief.
"Let your grief be as full of joy as it is of sorrow. Let it be proof of how much you've loved, how deeply you've allowed life to live in you, how wide the river of your heart has become. Every experience in which you love and lose is excellent practice for learning to face change and to let go. Instead of turning away from love so as not to invite loss, love fully, and learn to grieve. I have discovered those that can grieve loss are those who can love life."
we can't count on Tomorrow
One thing losing my child taught me is that we are never guaranteed tomorrow. I thought I would have my whole life to make memories and enjoy my life with my daughter, but now I'm only left with 16 years of memories to draw from. If I would have known that I would only have had 16 years with her, I might have lived my life differently. I might have valued each and every moment that I spent with her and would not have wanted to lose a precious second. I took for granted that we would have time to do all the things we wanted to do together, as a result I was left with regrets. Now I play the balancing act of being grateful for the time I was able to spend with her versus the pain of the regrets of not having had more time to spend with her. I have come to believe the only way to live life is in the present moment, as we cannot predict what the future holds for us. Trying to control the future is useless, and will only add to our suffering.
Franz Kafka Story
Franz Kafka, the story goes, encountered a little girl in the park where he went walking daily. She was crying. She had lost her doll and was desolate.
Kafka offered to help her look for the doll and arranged to meet her the next day at the same spot. Unable to find the doll he composed a letter from the doll and read it to her when they met.
“Please do not mourn me, I have gone on a trip to see the world. I will write you of my adventures.” This was the beginning of many letters. When he and the little girl met he read her from these carefully composed letters the imagined adventures of the beloved doll. The little girl was comforted.
When the meetings came to an end Kafka presented her with a doll. She obviously looked different from the original doll. An attached letter explained: “my travels have changed me... “
Many years later, the now grown girl found a letter stuffed into an unnoticed crevice in the cherished replacement doll. In summary it said: “every thing that you love, you will eventually lose, but in the end, love will return in a different form.”
I love this story as we are changed forever by our loss, but we never lose our love for our children. We just have to find new ways to continue our relationship with them.
grief is necessary
As I have said before, grief is a natural and necessary response to losing anyone that you love. Everyone grieves differently and at their own pace. Nobody has the right to tell you that you need to get over it. You will never get over it. Saying that I do think that we can heal from this tragedy. I think we get to a point in grieving that we need to realize that holding on so tightly to our grief is counter productive for us. Holding on so tightly to our grief eventually only adds to our misery and will not bring our child back no matter how much we want it to. It will only serve to continue to prevent us from healing which in some ways does not honor the memory of our children who would want us to heal and not be miserable for the rest of our lives.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. Isaiah 9:1
After the darkness there will eventually be light again. Hold on through the darkness while looking for the light to shine again.