Saturday, November 30, 2013

a Love this big

photograph by Ruth Heffron

The world of holiday shopping ads, glittering decorations and festivities is gathering momentum all around us . . . and for those who are grieving the loss of the most precious thing in their lives, it feels like a huge disconnect.  The presents, the parties, the decorating, the traditions are all dimmed by the glare of aching absence.  

So, how do we do this ?  How do we get through this time when celebration is simply impossible?  

There are some “rules” you can make for yourself that help, I think.  Here are a few ideas:

Give yourself permission to only do what feels tolerable this year. 

Know that whatever you decide to do can be only for this year  - which is different.  You can always return to family traditions in years to come., if you want.  

Treat yourself with the gentleness your grieving heart needs.  

Ask for what you need.   Don’t expect your family and friends to anticipate your feelings or to understand.   And try to forgive them when they don’t. Your sorrow is hard for them to watch and they want you to feel better.  

Spend time with people who can be patient with your grieving.  Trying to pretend you are "fine" takes way too much energy and will simply exhaust you even more. 

If you want to participate in The Season, create a gesture that feels appropriate to your grief, such as, giving a gift in memory of your child or creating a traditional activity that recognizes your sorrow.  

Leaning into sorrow,  which is authentic, will be the most honest way to approach this holiday.  After all, this is the season of Love that passes all understanding and losing a child is the most vivid way of getting in touch with that Mystery that I know.  

Without a Love this big, we would not feel a sorrow this deep.  

Thursday, November 28, 2013

a Thanksgiving prayer

a Thanksgiving prayer

     Spirit of Love and Light, 
     Deep Heart that gives life to us
          and to all the world,

     today, more than other days,
          we are consciously grateful,
          humbled by our abundance
          and uncommonly aware
               of how good life can be.

     We say this in the bright light of our losses
               and with hearts that often feel heavy.
     But no amount of sadness or loneliness
              can obliterate our blessings
              and that is surely our greatest gift of all.

     So, give to us this day,
              around this table,
     the grace to know deep inside
              the precious joys of our lives
     and to live with hearts and voices
              that continually give thanks. 

     In the very name of Love that never dies, we pray . . . 

              lit it be so . . . oh, let it be so . . .  

Monday, November 25, 2013

to love all the way through

       It doesn't matter what thorns we carry 
or how we squirm to avoid their pain.  
We unfold as long as we love, 
pried into blossoms. 

My love for you has outlasted my notions
of love, the way a redwood, allowed to stand
after many storms, grows from the inside,
forcing its bark to drop away.

(from Reduced to Joy by Mark Nepo)

              When we love all the way through the losing, we find that something false drops away
              and we are given the simple patience it takes to heal.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

strength is in the leaning

I am reading a wonderful new book by Anne Lamott  -  Stitches – A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair.   If you know her writing, you know she is refreshingly real, often disarmingly funny and deeply, sensitively compassionate about the art of being human.  For those of us whose lives have run tragically aground with the loss of someone beloved, she is a dose of healing medicine. 

There is little as restorative to those who are deeply grieving as someone willing to give words to truth - especially when that truth is brutal and, so, more often avoided.

One truth in her stories is one I have witnessed each time our support group meets.  In Lamott’s words, there is the “promise that we do endure, and that out of the wreckage something surprising will rise . . . proof that in the cold wind, if you can lean against others, none of you will blow away.”   Strength, strange as it sounds, is in the “leaning”, in the surrender to what cannot be ignored, in the willingness to see what is still good around us. 

She continues, “The world is always going to be dangerous, and people get badly banged up, but how can there be more meaning than helping one another stand up in the wind and stay warm?”

Monday, November 4, 2013

paralyzed by beauty

My Monday morning began with the routine of stepping out our front door to get the newspaper, but I was greeted by this ! 

I stood paralyzed in our driveway watching the sky come alive with color as it changed slowly from deep brilliant red to radiant gold . . . spreading over my head and filling the entire heavens.  What a spectacular manifestation of nature’s unpredictable beauty. 

One of our group members recently reminded us that beauty is constantly surrounding us if we can only notice it.  I believe that is true, deeply wise and one of the most abundant sources of healing for our broken hearts. 

May you notice the beauty that is around you today . . .
            may you pause in whatever busy-ness to take it in  . . .
                        and may it soak into the torn places of your heart
                                    and bring comfort. . .