Monday, March 31, 2014

Grief is entering eternity piece by piece

In grief, there is no closure. There is no end. There is no coming to terms and there is no recovery. When someone who you let into your heart and let them tie strings between their heart and yours, who you allowed the psychological and spiritual privilege of connecting with you – when that person dies you do not recover. You never get back to where you were. In grief, you are forever different.

Those strings get pulled tight with one end of the string on this side of eternity and the other end of the string on the other end of eternity, only there is no way to fully or even faintly see what the other side is like. Those strings pull so tight wrapped around the heart it can feel like you’re carrying the weight of not only your life, but that of the other as well. In grief we try to live for two when we do not have the strength to live for one.

Ambiguity is as much a part of grief as pain. Knowing where the person you love is used to be easy. There they are. In loss they cannot be accessed in any way. It is not satisfying to gain logical truths about what the dead cannot do. Even if the mind can grasp permanent absence over time, the heart refuses to be convinced – because the heart believes there is life after death. The heart is right. The physical absence and psychological presence of those who have died creates incongruence between heart and mind. This ambiguity is difficult to reconcile and impossible to close. Closure is actually foreclosure on the heart. We are not successful in our grief to come to closure, but rather we are successful in our grief to hold together the seemingly impossible realities that this loved one is dead forever and also alive forever – forever.

The psychological and spiritual privilege you extended came with risk and in loss that risk is realized. It hurts like Hell. “I let you have a piece of my soul and when you died part of me died as well.” That pain is the evidence not of permanent loss, but rather of living in two worlds. The more people I love who die the more I am divided between here and there. Grief is entering into eternity piece by piece.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Grief Strings

People go about their lives tying strings to each other. From heart to heart strings are tied, some of them tied forever and some of them for a season and then untied. Sometimes the strings are cut and it hurts.

Really good people, the kind of people who have really figured out how to love, these people go about tying strings to the hearts of everyone they meet. They are contagious people who cannot help but be good to others. They have so many strings tied from their hearts to the hearts of others that their life is a web of connections that is dense and beautiful.

It is these beautiful webs of connection that help keep each other from plunging into the depths or falling off the edge. We need as many of these connections as we can get in our lives.

And then when we lose someone to death, it hurts so bad. The tug of those strings pulls tight and stretches our hearts until they bleed, and then more. We do not cut these strings in death. If we did we would not feel the pull. Instead, we feel the meaning and importance of the strings more in death than in life.

When someone dies and leaves from here to there, we do not lose connection; we maintain it. We feel the tug and pull and ache not because they are dead, but because they are more alive than we are. Everyone that goes on ahead of us is pulling us toward them. At the right time, whenever that is, we will join them.

Grief is the short time (even thought it never feels short – ever) that exists between the time we lose someone and the we join them.