Too often grief and loss are overwhelming and so we run from them—sometimes as fast and as far as we can. Sadly, this is the opposite of what is helpful.
It is terribly hard to sink into the black hole that represents our loss. The black hole of grief. It feels like we ourselves are fractured—in a state that defies repair.
And in one sense, that is true—we defy being repaired because we have endured a loss that has changed who we are. What we have lost is never coming back, and neither will we ever be the person we were before that loss. There is a part of ourself, of our soul, that will be broken, fractured, forever.
We have probably experienced a level of brokenness we didn’t even know was possible. And it feels like life was perfect before this great loss—we remember our life and our self often in a pool of golden light—perfection. We want to get back there but we know that wish is futile. This is the nature of grief.
“Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life. Knowing this gives me hope that human wholeness — mine, yours, ours — need not be a utopian dream, if we can use devastation as a seedbed for new life.” Parker Palmer
We cannot get back to what we once were, or what our family once was. But somehow the process of grief and sorrow is an embracing of how broken we have become. We cry our tears of loss and sadness because we need to—but in that river of tears there is also a promise of hope.
The human soul is designed to find a way through the wilderness—it is the primary story of history. Finding a new road, finding the way to redemption: we find our purpose in overcoming the obstacles.
If you have lost a family member, the first instinct is to retreat, to run from the pain. But when you have caught your breath and had time to connect to your own soul, stop running. Some of us have been running since childhood—it’s time to stop. For children, running from the pain may be the only way to survive but once we reach our mature years, we are responsible for what we choose.
Let that river of tears carve a new pathway into your soul. You will find that what it shapes as it washes through you is a new capacity for kindness, compassion and hope. And there will be people in your life who need those gifts from you—you will recognize them when the time is right.