Memories, Grief, & Integration

Grief is a funny thing! Not funny in a ha-ha sort of sense, but in a peculiar sort of sense. It gets talked about as if it’s linear, with stages and progression and some semblance of order. Which is, of course, nothing like what actually happens. First of all, no two people’s grief is the same. We each have our unique ways of dealing with loss. And second, no matter who you are, your grief will find it’s own path, and it’s seldom, if ever, straight. It twists and turns and doubles back on itself. 

All of this comes up for me in this moment because I was peeling an orange. As I was separating the segments a memory came fluttering into my awareness. On road trips with Veronica, when I was driving she would sometimes peel an orange and then feed me segments. It was a very sweet experience, and the memory leaves me smiling. But that would not always have been the case. Ten years ago if that memory had shown up I would have been a weeping pile of emotional, grief-stricken goo on the floor. The loss would still have been fresh and the pain still lurking near the surface. Back in those days it didn’t take much to bring on the tears. But time, when coupled with being intentional about paying attention to the inner workings of my life, has left me more grounded and more integrated. This evening’s experience with the orange was, at least in my opinion, still a grief experience, but it now has a gentler, smoother quality. The loss is still there, and sometimes the tears still come. But now that loss exists within the larger context of a rich, full, and rewarding life. I can remember being fed orange slices and smile at the sweetness of that moment. And I can say thank you to the Universe for the truly amazing gift of sharing life and love with the one who fed those oranges to me. All while also being grateful that the love I experienced with Veronica helped to prepare me for the gift of sharing life and love with Susan. As I said, grief is a funny thing! And I am grateful.

It Takes the Time It Takes

A friend’s mother just died unexpectedly, and he observed that it took several days for him to even begin to find words to start talking about it. That brought to mind my own experience just before and after Veronica died. For me, it wasn’t words, but photos. There is a gap in my photo stream that began the day I first became aware that there was something wrong and extended for several weeks after she died. Such a loss disrupts (obliterates) the normal flow of life, and (at least for me) it took a while to even begin to find my bearings again. When something dramatic and traumatic occurs in your life I invite you to be gentle with yourself. Take whatever time is necessary, because it takes the time that it takes. Healing does come, but it cannot be rushed. Life will never be the same again, but the Light will return.

To Be Present…

the challenge is to stay present (which is, of course, always the challenge) – today what tempts me away from this worthy goal is the finish line, which is almost in sight – 80 days from now a new chapter begins – but that day is not today – on this day I am still Pastor Roger and there are still a few more sermons to preach (including the one for this morning) – so I’ll remember to breathe and keep my feet firmly planted in the flow – in this moment I’ll show up and be present to the NOW of my life