Sunday, September 29, 2013

the perspective of the redwoods

This past summer I was given a gift of something I have wanted for as long as I can remember.  I saw the great redwood trees in California.  And they were more astounding than I had ever imagined.

So massive and majestic in their stately silence that it was impossible to take in their size, age and beauty all at once.  I couldn’t get enough of them.  From grove to grove, I wanted to walk among them, look up into their branches that went for what seemed like miles into the sky, feel the thick protective bark, try to wrap my limited arms around the immense trunks and grieve at the sight of the fallen ones.  They rank with those moments in my life when I’ve experienced some reality that is truly larger than life itself. 

Walking among the groves reminded me that perspective makes all the difference.  Depending upon how I looked at them, my experience changed. . . . the dizzying height of the topmost branches, the texture of the bark that could even keep fire from killing the tree, the breadth of the trunk that went as far into the earth as it did up into the sky, the upended root system of those that had fallen with what must have seemed like an earthquake.  To truly experience such magnificence meant seeing from all these different perspectives. 

And so my heart asks . . . can I honor the gift of our son this way? 
Can I see his life from all its unique perspectives and take him in as one astounding moment of unfathomable love that is part of me? 
Can I walk among his smiles, his words, his struggles and his joys with simple, bottomless gratitude and feel the immense treasure that his life is to me? 

yes . . . oh, yes . . .

Thursday, September 26, 2013

grief is like this

We are in the midst of having work done on our house and it is requiring that we move all the furniture, take everything from off the walls and even empty some of the cabinets.  The confusing disarray of our lives is all consuming and reminds me of the way grief feels. 

Even though the furniture and the rooms are the same, nothing is familiar.  We try to go about our daily lives, but keep bumping into things that are out of place.  Doing the simplest everyday task is hard, because we are constantly looking for what we need.  Boxes fill the hallways spilling over with things we haven’t seen in years. 
Nothing is in its rightful place.

And yet, it seems like the perfect time to clean in all those hard to reach places.  So, I climb up on a ladder and reach behind furniture to scrub the spots we do not see everyday.  I empty cabinets so as to reorder their contents.  I throw away or give away all the things we no longer need or want.  There is a strange sense of freedom in that.    

When this is all done and everything is reassembled, we will have new floor to walk on and new paint to brighten each room.  Many things will be the same, but everything will feel different. 

Grief is like this . . . it changes our lives from top to bottom.  It creates disarray and confusion, but, at the same time, gives us the chance to reorder and renew. 

Much of our life will remain the same, but everything will feel different.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Memories of loved ones are like songs in our soul.

Margaret Wakeley

Friday, September 13, 2013

remembering is the bedrock of grief.

Remembering is the bedrock of grief. 

And yet, the common advice well meaning friends often offer is that we “need to move on” or “put this behind us”.   Those words are usually spoken by someone who is extremely uncomfortable with our sorrow and who needs for us to “get over this” so they can feel more at ease.  Grief is hard to watch.

Remembering is not only at the very heart of grief, but becomes particularly healing when we remember specifically.   I call these snapshot memories. 

So, take a few moments and bring to mind and heart . . . 
            what you loved about the way your child looked,
            what your child used to typically say that was precious,
            what you and your child enjoyed doing together,
            what made your child laugh,
            what your child taught you. . . .

When we give ourselves permission to remember this way, it is as if we carefully wrap these living experiences in our love and store them deeply in our hearts where they can be recalled over and over again. 

Healing our sadness slowly takes hold as we embrace the specific, unrepeatable gift we have been given.