April 2012: Grief
Grief is one of those desert places where our hearts are broken wide open
and tears flow across the parched places in our souls.
~ Christine Valters Paintner
Hard to believe it is nearly a month since my dog passed away. It feels like forever and like it happened yesterday—all at the same time. There is a big gaping hole where she used to be. The time of her illness went by so quickly. In some respects, it feels like I have passed through a time warp, a worm hole, of some sort. And, of course, when we encounter a loss of a loved one, other losses come flooding back. We are reminded of other gaping holes. Some that have closed over, others with just a thin covering. These lost attachments are grieved once again along with the latest loss.
I was particularly touched by the quote above while reading about using the Celtic elements of water, wind, earth, and fire in meditation. In the book, it is in the context of the fire of purification that grief is addressed. While I don’t necessarily feel purified at the moment, I certainly can relate to feeling parched. And broken wide open. So I can attest that yes, being broken wide open exposes the parched, desert places. If we follow through with this analogy, does that mean that the tears will eventually generate fertile soil?
There’s an exercise. Look back over past grieving experiences to discover the fertile places that have begun producing lush vegetation. In my retrospection, it appears some of my vegetation is more scraggly than verdant; but I do have to acknowledge that past losses do not feel like parched, desert places forever. Even if the vegetation is sparse in the aftermath, it is still evidence of growth. Granted some of those desert places have been there a long time. If left unattended, does the desert take over? Or, as in some microclimates, does the vegetation? Sadly, I have more evidence of the former.
I suspect it has something to do with my reticence to be broken open—and allow the tears—or comfort of any kind—to flow over the parched places. It would be an interesting study to consider the times I hold back the tears and the times I allow myself an ‘ugly cry.’ Does healing truly come when we open ourselves to the torrential downpour of grief? When our anguish floods the parched plains? Sometimes it feels so dry, the moisture evaporates as soon as it escapes. What then? Are we bound to be parched forever?
That’s a miserable thought. I certainly do not want to be parched forever. Hence, if I am to glean anything from these musings, it would appear I need to be broken open for healing to have an opportunity. Now that’s a scary thought. Being broken open can mean any number of things. I guess that is a risk I am going to have to take if I want to give healing a fighting chance at flooding my parched places.
Maybe in time, when I look back at this time of grieving, I will be able to see growth where once was an arid vacuum. I wonder what kind of growth I will see? And will it be scraggly, hanging on for dear life; or will it be lush, taking over the desert places?
May your times of parched places be flooded with comfort and healing in order to generate fertile soil for growth and renewal.