Friday, February 14, 2014

A Blessing for the Brokenhearted

A Blessing for the Brokenhearted

There is no remedy for love but to love more.
– Henry David Thoreau

Let us agree
for now
that we will not say
the breaking
makes us stronger
or that it is better
to have this pain
than to have done
without this love.

Let us promise
we will not
tell ourselves
time will heal
the wound
when every day
our waking
opens it anew.

Perhaps for now
it can be enough
to simply marvel
at the mystery
of how a heart
so broken
can go on beating,
as if it were made
for precisely this—

as if it knows
the only cure for love
is more of it

as if it sees
the heart’s sole remedy
for breaking
is to love still

as if it trusts
that its own stubborn
and persistent pulse
is the rhythm
of a blessing
we cannot
begin to fathom
but will save us

© Jan L. Richardson.

My mom died 6 years ago this week. I am constantly awed by the reverberations of that event in my life. In recent years I have focused less on her death and more on her life and its meaning for my present and future, but this year something is drawing me back here - to that moment when everything changed. It might be because I organized, with a fellow motherless mother, a group of motherless mothers who have now been meeting for half a year - to talk about our mothering, our loss, and how those interact. So these issues are on my brain. And I am still sorting through mom's belongings that I stashed in my basement after I cleaned out her house. In her things I am finding reminders of the few weeks after her death, of the kindnesses that were bestowed upon us in such great measure from her friends, our friends, family, church family, etc. Of the intense busyness after someone dies - all the million of tasks that have to happen. But mostly I am being reminded of the way that my grief intensified in the months after her death - not lessened.

And I am becoming more and more firm in my belief that our mainstream culture does grief all wrong. There ought to be a way to recognize that grief doesn't end, that we don't get over major losses, we just learn to live with them. It's as if you get the funeral and maybe a few weeks afterwards but then you are expected to keep your grief to yourself. How freeing it could be for there to be space for people to grieve each year anew? On the day their loved one died, or their birthday, or another holiday? Or all of them? There are people here in the U.S., and all over the world, who DO have these rituals (Day of the Dead, for example) - and they are community oriented. I hope that through my own personal ritual making within my family and with the help of my motherless mothers group I can make some space for these rituals in my personal yearly calendar.

I have also been thinking a lot about how we die, after reading a few articles lately about the "aid in dying" movement. I am so grateful that Mom had access to hospice and that she had access to pain medication/control. And I was incredibly grateful to have her best friend with us, who knew much more about the dying process than we did. When we are bringing someone into the world, most people I know are very intentional and careful about choosing a midwife or doctor to assist them in bringing this life into the world. Why would we not have a midwife for dying, when we have a midwife for birthing? I certainly feel that the hospice workers partially filled this role, and Mom's best friend, but I didn't plan for this or get Mom's input. We make a birth plan, but we don't make a death plan. We will sometimes fill out a legal document that says what we DON'T want, but I haven't ever seen one that says what we DO want. In my birth plan I said I did NOT want to be left alone - that I wanted someone in the room at all times. This is an example of something that could be in that death plan. Of course we don't know ahead of time how we will die, or what choices we will have, if any - but birth can also be very unpredictable. And if our birth plan doesn't play out exactly as written, at least we have stated our values and ideals to help guide our loved ones and medical professionals.

I wish everyone who is celebrating a lovely St. Valentine's Day and wish for all of us a community that recognizes and holds all of our emotions - love, grief, anger, longing..all of them!


Emilie Hermans said...

Great post! I LOVE your idea about a day of rememberance or communal ritual- I have often thought this myself... Its so good to take some time for the grieving as well as the joy of that relationship. I wish I could be in your motherless mothers group! Maybe I am, from a distance. I am sending so much love to you and your mom Susanna! xxxoooo Emilie

Andrea Roberts said...

Great post. Wonderful that you are sharing this. So many people don't have a space to process their grief years on...thanks.

Sofia said...

Thanks for sharing, Sue. I hope you find continual support from your motherless mothers group and from rituals you take up. Love you!