I’ve been thinking lately how any loss can, will and should hit your heart. Hurting it and reminding it of what is no longer there. But when loss hits not just your heart but your home, there is a whole other layer of complexity to things.
Like a bulls eye, the closer grief gets to the center of the target the more it not only tears at your spirit, but impacts your day to day. You don’t get to put it over there for awhile, walk away and pretend it didn’t happen. It’s right here, and you have to learn to walk through it, have to learn how to grow strong enough to carry it.
Loss came to the home of my family this winter, changed everything. My brother never did move out, still lived with my parents in the house on the hill we grew up in. He lived there, he died there, his presence still everywhere. His urn on the fireplace with the framed pictures of him we had at the memorial and his light saber sitting by, Dad goes there sometimes and takes a knee when the missing gets too difficult. I go over at least once a week to be with my parents. It’s hard stuff.
My family is doing what they can to keep on moving. Dad tries to have a positive attitude, find the things that still make life worth it, but he took on the responsibility of sorting through and cleaning out all of his son’s things- more hard stuff- and can’t talk about it without choking up. My mom, already broken in body and run down from too much stress, illness and chronic pain, is struggling. I believe she expects it won’t be long before she sees him again soon in the next life. And that’s hard stuff too.
If I were somebody else I might be avoidant of the situation, choose distraction and denial, rationalize it by saying that I’ve got my own grief to carry, I can’t handle their too. But I have a very strong heart, I’ve learned how to carry. I choose to face it.
Choose to go up there, have a hot meal, watch a movie, let my parents be where they need to be, feel what they need to feel and just be present, which I figure is the biggest act of love I can give to them right now.
There is nothing fair about the situation. It’s not fair that two people in the later years of their life have had so much grief heaped upon them. Not fair that the mantle of only child has fallen on my shoulders and there is no back up. Not fair the stress and strain it’s placed on everyone. Not fair how much this has interrupted my life. Not fair how bone achingly sad and isolating its been. Not fair how much I’ve carried.
If you sit with the not fair long enough you will discover there are two choices in life. 1) Bitterness and Disillusion or 2) Compassion and Love. And while having moments of 1 is inevitable, 2 is what I keep striving for. Striving for finding this sort of radical, fierce compassion for the whole.
Striving to use my heart and not my ego. To step outside of the situation, see the brokenness and the resilience in my parents, see those things in myself. To see the situation as a giant sphere filled with awful and beauty and grief and healing and unfair and hope and hate and love. To walk around that sphere looking at the different viewpoints without judgment, without the need to fix, see how they are all connected, how they work together. To see how love binds the whole thing together, even when it doesn’t feel like it.
And if I take a step even further the sphere gets bigger. Filled with the people I know, the people I don’t know, the people who inhabit this space together. Who are all working out there own sense of brokenness and resilience as they try and find the love that binds it together. Each in their own way.
There is exquisite wonder in that sphere if you learn to see it. Even with all the cracks and pain.
Grief is horrible. Bulls eye grief a real beast. Even as it opens a potential gateway to light and growth, stripping you of judgment and ego, offering you an opportunity to expand in compassion and find the love. Giving you a chance to step back, look at the whole and find the beauty in the full of being human.
It never will be fair.
But I can learn to step back, try to look at things through the perspective of grace and learn to find the love anyways.