Life and loss are inseparable partners. The holidays now are without our mother who started planning for them each year in June. Our kids live in another state, so Christmas decorating was lifeless this season. A massive winter storm is moving around us. Snow is expected to fall everywhere, except the very wet Tennessee valley. I love snow, but live in a little pocket of winter loss.
Our losses are profound. When we rise each day, we might realize there is no significant other to do life with; or find we are still facing the loss of health that plagued us yesterday; maybe there are no children with whom we can dance and play, and we find the light of hope is missing.
For some, we rise to silence where once there was joy; a parent, spouse, or child is no longer with us. And we grieve. How can we ever begin to imagine again, much less imagine life?
There is no predetermined, professionally-sanctioned way to grieve. Many techniques help us get emotionally unstuck, but grief is unique to every individual. We may express our loss by thinking and analyzing, feeling and crying, or even laughing. Some of us may want to talk and tell stories over and over again. I tend toward humor or move into silence. Still others work to find meaning. If we have known something or someone for 20+ years, why are we expected to move on one week after the loss? Maybe we’ve known them for a very short time but our experience together was deep. What then?
When losses are amplified, there is a doorway into life. At just the right time it will appear. The little doorway that cracks open is one of remembrance. As we feel loss, we remember. What do we remember? Life.
We recall the fun or the beauty that filled our days when we held our beloved warm and close. Each second of mindfulness becomes precious. As we grieve this holiday season, my prayer is that we can become intentional and present with our memories, and begin to see the life that remains around us. Life never really leaves. It moves in the darkness with us, in memories, meaning, and in hope. We must not be afraid to grieve. And we must not be afraid to live.