Back in March at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was interviewed by Brooke James for her podcast, The Grief Coach.
With everything that happened in the following months, I completely forgot to post the link here until just now.
I encourage you to explore the site as there are many interesting grief-related topics.
These are troubling times. Challenging times. And, as in almost all troubling and challenging times, many people are experiencing loss. Not just in the “usual” way — the end of physical life — but in other less tangible, but no less devastating, ways.
Loss of job, of income, of routine and freedom as a result of the necessary “social distancing” that may well be in place for months to come. Loss of health, of autonomy, of peace of mind due to the virus itself — these are just some of the losses that combine to create what we are experiencing as a global community and as individuals within that global community: The Loss of Normal.
We are all grieving, whether we realize it consciously or not — we are grieving The Loss of Normal.
Be patient — with yourself and with others.
Be gentle — with yourself and with others.
Be compassionate — with yourself and with others.
Be grateful — for all you have in each singular moment.
Be open — to receiving the lessons of loss, one of the greatest of which is the realization of Oneness, the realization in our enforced solitude that we are not, and never have been, really alone at all.
I offer you these words of Thomas Merton, in the hopes that you will find comfort in their quiet power as I have done.
You are not alone.
Sending all and each of you so much love,
It's your hands I miss
When I got there,
they were already
I lifted them to my lips.
Breathed on them.
As though I could
the life you had given me
It didn't work.
what I miss
They are just what I miss
How I wish you had
Then I could have mixed
of you with ink and had you
into my skin.
I could look at my foot
and see your eye,
at my arm
and see your toes
at my hand
and see your
So that I could
your body in mine
as you carried
This year is a blur.
The 29 months since my mother fell and broke her shoulder are a blur.
In the blur, there are facts.
My mother died.
My 14 year old soul dog died.
I lost my mother’s home.
I lost my blood family.
My mother’s 19 year old dog died.
My 3 year old cat died.
I lost my president.
I lost my job.
I lost another home.
Facts. Chapter Headings. Mile Markers.
When I look at those facts, I am numb. Still.
And yet, not completely.
Because running through the numbness, pulsing, sometimes quietly, sometimes gushing like arterial blood from a wound, is one constant: Gratitude.
On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln, in an address written by Secretary of State William Seward, invited his “fellow citizens… to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November… as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise…”
In the midst of a civil war no less.
It may seem a paradox, in the midst of grief and loss, to find gratitude, but what better time is there, really? When is the sanctity of peace more precious than during war? The security of home more sweet than in its absence? When is the wonder of life more obvious than in the presence of death?
Gratitude in grief is not simply a matter of “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. It’s deeper than that. More complex. And yet so simple. If we have the patience and the courage to sit with our grief, to wander with open eyes through its panoply of emotions and experiences, we cannot help but grow, we have no choice but to evolve.
Gratitude is the grace that makes that evolution possible. Without gratitude, evolution becomes devolution.
So, let us be grateful. For every death, every loss, every blow we have endured as individuals, as families, as a nation in this past year. Let us be thankful for homes lost and found, for families born and made, for beings living and dead.
If you are reading this, know that I am thankful for you. All of us meet in the grief that brings us to these words. I am grateful for your presence, silent or spoken, grateful for the hand you offer, seen and unseen, as we make our way to who and what we are supposed to be.
Bless you. Thank you.