I’ve been thinking lately about grief and grace, about experiencing and surviving unspeakable loss, about the soul’s journey, from transition to transcendence.
How does anyone survive those defining transition points? The suicide of a spouse, the death sentence of a terminal disease, the violent experience of rape, a freak accident that leaves your athletic child a quadriplegic, the death of a marriage made in heaven, being displaced from your dream job at age fifty something, or fill-in-the-blank your worst nightmare?
I won’t go into the details of my loss, but I can tell you that I remember vividly Day 6. That is the day the shock of it all began to fade and reality set in. No matter what, my life would never be the same again because the sameness had taken a sharp turn into the abyss. My life no longer had the predictability it had before that fateful Day 1 when everything changed. Nothing had prepared me for these circumstances, for these feelings, or for this reality. The numbness gave way to a keening pain that seemed to suck the very life from me. I remember saying aloud, alone in my bedroom, “I can’t do this.” And I meant it.
But I did “do it,” because the only way to get past the howling pain of grief is to go through it. You never get over the loss, of course. There is a blank space in your life--that transitional place that defines your life before x happened and your life after x happened. That place can last a year, ten years, a lifetime. It is the place where I, and people in my tribe, write in a journal to define and document what has happened. We journal the details and our raw, primal reaction to our loss.
Eventually, inevitably we turn from reacting because we realize, although not initially, that we have a choice. We begin to respond to life based on our core values. Will the loss define me, or will I find a new way of being in this life of mine? Am I a victim—yes! Have I been robbed—yes! But do I have to live my life as a victim? No, I can transcend the experience and make peace with myself, by myself, and for myself.
After that, I can tend to others in my tribe. I know what it is like to be broken. I can listen to them—really listen with my heart’s ear—and be present and bear witness to their soul’s journey.