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Friday, April 29, 2016

Good Grief

Soul-shattering grief. Crushing sadness.

An inescapable fact of being human is we will experience the spectrum of human emotions. Humans don't live forever. Period. Grief will come in forms expected or shocking: A loved one reaches the end of a long and productive life, or a phone call or a knock on your door splinters your world. The inevitability of grief creates a shared experience, but the process of grieving itself is deeply personal. Does anyone truly know how you feel when someone you loved dies?

My nephew. My sister's oldest son. Her firstborn. Twenty-six. Funny. Handsome. Smart. Athletic. Vital. Loved.

Loved. Loved. Loved.




My family's soul has been seared by the heat of this loss and we are forever changed. Maybe our hearts were clay and are now hardened to the point of becoming brittle. Maybe the loss brought to fullness something within us that needed a catalyst to become completely realized. I only know the evidence of change will unfold in time.

I'm a seeker. I try to find meaning, purpose, and beauty wherever I can. This, however, has me stumped.

Six weeks ago, my world changed. I unplugged. I was too stunned to take in any more information. So, I stopped and looked around.

I saw my sister surrounded by a community that will not let her fall. I saw my niece step up to help my aging parents absorb the news and travel from Florida to Vermont. I watched as my children reached a deeper level of appreciation for and connection with their extended family. I glimpsed the world my nephew created through the hundreds of people who came to pay their respects. I stood amazed as my sister began her process of grief with a strength and dignity I could only imagine.

I saw a beauty in these things I did not know existed. I hold my breath as I write this: I saw good in the face of the unspeakable.

The full impact of our grief is only beginning to unfold. We've yet to gather at a Thanksgiving table with one less setting. We've yet to see the perfect Christmas gift that will remain on the shelf.

But, I will hold on to the good I have seen and know that it is part of our shared--and unique--journey.