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not done grieving

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For most of yesterday my thoughts were with a certain patient who’s dying, who may already have died (see last two days’ posts). Last night I lit an extra candle, this morning I meditated an extra faithfulperiod, then asked my monastery friend to add her name to the morning chant list of people who are ill or have died within the last 49 days. More than once I wanted to phone hospice and inquire; even better, to go there … in case I was needed.

Out comes an old tool: to ask What is this? and see where it leads. Each new loss, we’re told, causes old (unresolved) losses to re-emerge. Asking What is this? shows how I continue to cling to the memory of a love disrupted two years and four months ago. Asking again finds me trapped by a promise to be faithful to something and someone that’s no more.

John O’Donohue writes:

There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.

Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly without warning,
You are ambushed with grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.

More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

source: “For grief” (partial) in: O’Donohue, J. (2008). To bless the space between us. New York: Doubleday, p. 119.


6 responses »

  1. from ~N~ in a personal email: “The post this morning is amazing – the last two verses take my breath away….”

    • dear ~N~
      Just when I think i’ve disclosed too much, shown too much of the intricacies of an awakening heart, you write. Thank you. My hope–always–is that something I post is of value to someone else. That’s a risk worth taking.

  2. Tuesday I told a friend of my first love affair. One that cut me very deeply. As I told my story I became aware of my own body language, closed and withdrawn. That my voice, was quiet, soft and at times choked. In that moment two things dawned on me. That the person sitting across from me could not relate to my experience, and that years later the pain was still every-present. I realized that although I was “functioning well” I am not ready to move on.

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Tricky thing, this “moving on.” It appears that we’re required to cycle through the phases of grief again and again. We may have come to “accept” some aspects (in Kuebler-Ross language) but are still “denying” that certain events ever happened. Denial is too easily dismissed as avaoidance or weakness, but I believe it serves a purpose, that of protecting the heart. There’s something there (still) to be learned. So … patience and loving kindess towards our/selves are called for. Also courage to gently face what hurts.

      May you be filled with joy.

  3. Irene Monroe

    There are some beautiful thoughts here…… I’m very grateful for the courage and honesty of all that I see because it helps me to sort out the “what is this?”
    Thank you all for being present.

    • The voices of a community connected by courage.

      Just received a note from my friend Ryushin at Great Vow Zen Monastery, saying that “[your patient] is now receiving our prayers. May you, she, her family, and all beings be at ease.”


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