I know what it means to lose. Grieving the loss of someone …or grieving the loss of something we once had.
I hesitate to share this. Don’t misinterpret what I write as some pithy solution. It’s been my experience that in grief there is no solution. No resolution. There is only whatever pain and pleasure we are given at random among 10,000 things in this moment we call life.
I have these four smooth white stones. I can’t even remember where they came from, but sometimes I pretend to meditate. I’ll hold them in my hand and remember a few realizations I’ve had along the way.
To the first stone, I attribute the message that I AM NOT GOD. I do not have total control over what happens. I question whether even God does. Whether there is such a thing or not. Or if any ultimate being suffers the same experiences of loss everyone does.
I’ll hold the second stone and remind myself that SOMETIMES BAD THINGS HAPPEN. This is one of those things I cannot control. The truth is, bad things have happened for millennia. They will continue to happen for millennia. And they’ll happen to so many other people besides me. Loss is universal. Grieving is global. I am now aware, since my own loss, and have met so many people in pain, have heard so many painful stories. It’s like stumbling through an unreasonable darkness, then bumping into someone else. You reach out. You touch them. Though you don’t recognize their features, you recognize they are in this same place. And you are so very sorry you are both there at all.
Then with the third stone, I remember also that SOMETIMES GOOD THINGS HAPPEN. Still another thing I can’t control.
What I can control is what the fourth represents: the permission I have to FULLY ENGAGE IN THIS MOMENT. Where I am is where I am. What I feel is what I feel. I will not betray who I’ve lost, what was lost, or who I am by pretending to be anything else. I will bear every person and moment with me for the rest of my life, in the bad moments and in the good. There is this scar within me that marks where they once lived. It characterizes the person I now am…. But the emptiness won’t define me as deeply as the person who is now gone, the moment that’s passed. This reminds me not to miss the people or moments I have now, however briefly.
Maybe four stones won’t change what’s happened. They don’t fill the emptiness once filled by who and what I love and miss. Time doesn’t change this. Space doesn’t. Certainly not some platitude. Still, the only tangible I have is this place where I am.
Where’d you go?
You have gone
Where you were before.
And we are here–
We are here!
“A Liturgy of 3 Friends” (click here to read)
by Chuang Tzu
(I published this post originally on March 20, 2011.)