I haven’t written on this site in many weeks. I had nothing to say, as I reeled from the loss of three people in three weeks. Grief is so close to depression, you hardly know what’s come over you, and it takes time to heal. I say “you.” I mean me, of course, but maybe it relates to you, too. You have to tell me, because right now I feel the ground still rocking, unstable, underfoot. What have I to share? In grief, one sees through a veil; everything seems dulled: color, music, friendships. I have to remind myself to laugh, and all the time, I beat myself up for not feeling upbeat, happy, optimistic, and especially for having lost my way spiritually. Where is God? The best I can do is to comfort myself that all things change, that everything is temporary, including life itself.
“Out, out, brief candle,” says Macbeth, on the death of his wife:
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
that struts and frets its hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more.It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Is it true? Is there really no meaning? That’s what it feels like, and where is my generous spirituality in this? Sometimes you cling with all ten claws to faith alone, trying to remember those times when you saw and heard the angels sing, when your heart leapt up with joy at the beauty of a tree or horse or the eyes of a friend. That’s what faith means. That you can’t see “IT” anymore (whatever “it” is) — but you remember having seen it once (or many times!), and you cling to hope and faith. You cling to faith that you are still loved, and that you still love, even when you don’t feel loving. You return to the cold comfort of intellect. “We do not see things as they are,” according to the Talmud, “We see them as we are.” Perhaps you remember St. Paul, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” You remember that grief itself is a poignant expression of love, and the deeper the grief, the deeper the love. I say you. I mean me.
When signs of the spiritual are absent, I walk by faith alone, by the memory of blessings poured upon me earlier, or of felix culpa moments, in which terrible things turned out serendipidously in my favor. In grief, I walk by faith, praying, and then one day, I know, I’ll begin to blink my spiritual eyes again.
It just takes time. Grief is just another of these life-long journeys into love.
It sounds like kind of an apophatic time, as grief often is for the spirit. Not without intimacy and gift, but challenging, often laced with adjustments to loss. I’m so sorry for these deaths in your circle, and their compounding suffering.
One of my patients once shared her grief journey following the loss of her husband…I remember she said how colorlessly life flowed by for a few years, just drained of anticipation, joy, and liveliness. She said there nothing but numbness. And then one day she was with friends in Piccadilly Square, walking through the door from a shop and back to a street crammed with people and life and she said, “Just like that, there was color everywhere, and I wanted to be part of it…”
When you’re ready, I wish you the joy and connection with all that color. Gentle peace.
I agree with you completely. Main issue is how to bear it and control oneself.
So courage and bravery is must for any such type of an ordeal!!
Dear Sophy, It is really marvelous the way you turnedgrief into love. Really magical spritualand faithful!! Main issue is when a person is in grieffor another person mostly when he/sheis terminally ill or dead is actually aform of love for him/her. How is possible to show grief for aperson to whom we hate? So only loved one’s are grieved to showa hidden form of love. Is it so? I know the LOVE/GRIEF you arefacing for three people who werevery dear and near to you. Understands in the sense loosingan aunt and a uncle this year. My score is 2 and your 3 soyou are ahead of me by 1 number.Could we calculate it in digits? In grief but hidden in love. Shokee
I’m so sorry you are dealing with all this. Sending you a hug.
You are loved
Dear Sophy — I am deeply sorry to hear of your loss. Three people you love gone in the space of three weeks — that seems more than one can bear. I think there is no consolation for such a devastating loss; only time can ease the heartache and grief. I remember how it feels to have all joy drained away — years ago, when one of my dearest friends died, any sense of happiness in my day-to-day world seemed to have died with her. It was a loss that seemed particularly cruel because she died young. I experienced what you are going through now — everything was duller, color had faded, music had no resonance, even friends seemed distant. It was not that they were distant from me, but that I was distant from the ability to connect, to feel anything but sadness and grief. It took time, but eventually I crossed that gray plateau and felt joy again in the memory of my friend and our loving, laughter-filled friendship.
Your heart needs time to heal. As hard as it is to go through this experience, I think it will only last longer if you berate yourself for not “bouncing back.” from this loss. What concerns me most is you saying that you’re beating yourself up for feeling anything other than your usual optimism and your deeply rooted spirituality. Please, Sophy, let go of judging yourself. Please let yourself be, let yourself feel fully the love and loss you are going through. You said it yourself: “You remember that grief itself is a poignant expression of love, and the deeper the grief, the deeper the love.” Your heart, mind, and soul will find its way back to the person you remember before this loss — no need to push it along. You will find your own way, in your own time.
Yes, you are loved. Peace be.
Hello Sophy from aqui in Taos,
I once gave you an angel story. I am so sorry that such heavy grief has come to your door. You perfectly described the feeling of loss and shattering, the ground shifting under you. And now we see it manifested in the outside world that we once called normal. In the fires and flooding, tornadoes and hurricanes and drought. In the refrigerated trucks beside the hospitals.
I, too, am grieving, not just for humanity, but also for the evaporating lakes and streams, the burning sequoias, for the melting glaciers and lost habitat of so many species. For the clean wild places where I used to sequester that, to me, were sacred. I stumble into old age carrying this burden. That I was not able to save the world. Or wake up! I hear Millay’s voice, “Listen children/your father is dead . . .Life must go on/I forget just why.”
And then there are small synchronous moments when I feel sure that IT is still around, guiding me, whether or not I know IT. The day is easier to get through if I start with prayers for love, for peace, for myself, my neighbors, for all the suffering refugees. For all the weeping mothers, grieving fathers. Daughters and sons. For the polar bear and the elephant and the snow leopard. For the Earth itself, once a shining blue and green jewel revolving peacefully in space. In the midst of sudden and violent change, I seek out the eternal. I dive into the hope of love like a bird to the nest. I pray for the survival of beauty and truth. And for your struggle to return to the light.
Blessings and love, Phaedra
I remember you well. You wrote some terrific articles while I was there. Thank you thank you.
You said it all and I love the Millay quote. Somehow writing all that — which should have been revised to make clear what I was talking about with holding on by faith alone — somehow, the next day I felt fine again. I can see again..