Why love if losing hurts so much? I have no answers anymore, only the life I have lived. Twice in life I have been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety and the man choses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal.
~Anthony Hopkins playing C.S. Lewis in Shadowlands.
Thanks for all your comments and for coming out of hiding for me. I've been thinking a lot of what this blog is (for me and for you) and what I would like it to be. More than anything, I want it to be a true place and an inspiring place. I'm warmed and encouraged that so many of you find it to be such a place. It's good for me to practice seeing and feeling and living in the presence of others.
I'm reading a book right now in preparation for a training I'm doing regarding grief-work for counselors on Monday. My friend Kirsten lost her newborn child last year and has talked a lot about her journey. She's a very wise and gifted writer so I pay attention to any recommendations she makes regarding resources that are helpful to her. She has frequently mentioned one book in particular that was meaningful to her as she struggled through her grief. A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss is a book that particularly spoke to her, so when I started to prepare for this training I knew I would want to work my way through its pages.
Sometimes I think that learning to make your way through grief is the most important work that one can engage in. I've suffered devastating loss throughout my life and I clearly see today the ways that it continues to affect me whether I like it or not. Everyone responds to loss in their own way, and I tend to try to stuff it and avoid its invitation. I do this to my own detriment, but it's become a habit that I don't usually notice. Reading this book has forced me to wake up to this work once again. Generally speaking, when I realize that I have more work to do in this area, my first response is anger. I want to be finished and I don't want to have to look at it anymore. I feel a sense of dread and become easily overwhelmed.
But something I've learned from this book that I never really comprehended before is that grief is a lifelong work, something that presents challenges and opportunities as long as we're breathing. And rather than feeling dread this time around, I'm actually excited by what this might mean to me to welcome grief to do her work on me once again. Here is an excerpt that makes me particularly excited to dive back into my old wounds in a new way:
Deep sorrow often has the effect of stripping life of pretense, vanity, and waste. It forces us to ask basic questions about what is most important in life. Suffering can lead to a simpler life, less cluttered with nonessentials. It is wonderfully clarifying. That is why many people who suffer sudden and severe loss often become different people.I want so badly to move in this direction, and the old path of grief seems like the only way to get there. I want to become the person that my loss has invited me to be. I don't expect to be finished anytime soon or ever for that matter. But I do expect that it is good work that will change me in ways that are important. Surprisingly, I also don't expect that it will make me morbid or depressed. In fact, I'm looking forward to greater joy and simplicity and an awareness of what really matters to me. Sometimes that's gonna hurt really bad. That's OK. That's the deal.