“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?” Jack Kornfield
Although frequently attributed to Buddha, the above quote was actually penned by a guy named Jack. Realizing this, I think I love the quote even more than I did before, because it gives me hope; hope that not all of the great wisdom of the world was expounded eons ago and presently extinct.
It gives me hope also that we can teach ourselves to be wise and manage the most difficult moments of our lives with compassion, forgiveness and self-gentleness.
Although I am not a doctor or a philosopher or a psychiatrist, I know a thing or two about grief having lost the two largest influencers in my life to brain tumors six months apart. (And not just any brain tumors, these two poor souls both developed the same tumor in the same part of the brain and were given three – six months to live.)
The news of the first diagnosis was devastating – the second phone call was beyond comprehension. I initially thought someone was playing a cruel joke, not willing to accept the idea that fate could be so cruel to the people I cared about.
From that point forward I staggered forward in a stew of compassion, self-pity, agony, exhaustion, anger and frustration as the first one passed away without my being able to say goodbye (because the second one was too ill to be left unattended); and then hiding my anguish as helped the second one live at home long enough to hold his first grandchild in his arms.
He rallied for this birth beyond everyone’s expectations but shortly after the clouds inevitably rolled in and he too passed away in his sleep, leaving me a hollow shell of tears and grief.
It took three years for me to talk all the demons out of my head (I think I literally bored some of them to death lying awake at night thinking the same thoughts over and over again). Some days it seemed like I was going through the motions in a winter that would never end. But eventually some new flowers bloomed in the garden and I began to look at life differently. I know that seems corny, but that’s ok because I have chopped up all of the sorrow that was holding me back and burned it in small bits in the fireplace on my patio.
I am living proof that time does heal all wounds; the trick is not to try to rush the healing. Wanting to feel better does not mean that you will before you are ready to. It does not mean you can smack the well-meaning friends who tell you “it is time for you to get out again” before you are ready (but you can imagine doing that a little if it helps!)
Got your attention? Good – here’s the message. Your grief is YOUR grief. No one else (not even an expert) can really understand what you are going through so it is up to you to gradually let go of what happened and heal yourself.
Until you are ready to embrace this – keep busy. Do anything necessary to keep moving – scrub floors, sort socks, dig a new flower bed, chop wood, write anything.
Writing this blog has helped – it has forced me to avoid droning on about myself and do what I can to offer objective insights into some subjects that I know a little too much about, and others that I wish I knew more about.
Thank you for being there with me. Now that I am finally feeling myself again maybe we can start to have some fun (g)