Hope is grief’s companion. They walk together within us. Know one and often the other has surfaced as well. We worry for those whose husbands, wives, parents, grandparents have died during this pandemic. We worry that the rituals that guide us when death happens are now missing. I have thought about that a lot this last week.
I don’t remember much of the immediate days following my husband’s death. I recall bits of the service, but could not tell you most of the people who attended. I do not think I ever understood what shock and sorrow does to a body before his death. I knew though that I needed to get back to living after the brief but intense months leading up to Rob’s death. I needed to see to my child who had just turned 17. We needed to figure out how to live with such holes, such absence in our lives.
What I mostly remember in the days and weeks following Rob’s death was how hope found expression in the oddest ways. For example, one morning I noticed that on every outdoor light fixture, there was a bird’s nest. On each entry way to my home there was life beginning. In ways I could not anticipate, it felt like each was a sign beyond the borders of this world to the next.
I walked miles in the days and months that followed. I walked alone and often was accompanied by a robin that darted in an out of tree branches. I read voraciously seeking answers between pages. I listened to inspirational talks on my phone as I walked. It would take me two years to begin to listen to music as each song was a trigger to sadness until it was not.
I did four things that helped to heal me:
1. I cared for my child.I write this as I have empathy for all who suffer tonight. I feel for each of you. I also have confidence that those who grieve now, who feel lost and numb, will make the solace that is most needed.
2. I wrote most every day and took up painting and kept numerous art journals.
3. I began to meditate and I walked miles and miles and miles.
4. I healed with friends who knew loss too. Some were virtual. Most were not.
It comes from within.
I wish you your own bird’s nest to discover.
I wish you the grace that comes with hope.
I wish you most—those signs beyond this place and time that heal and fill you with hope.