July 27, 2018
There’s a Rumi quote, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” If that is indeed true, my life will forever be brighter because my heart was shattered by loss.
Heartbreak, when you have loved so deeply, is devastating. For weeks, you might be a barely-held-together semblance of sobbing, tormented grief. Not a bad day or two or three, but weeks of paralyzing, crippling despair. For a full week, you might not wash, change clothes or leave the house. You might not eat for days at a time. You might be beyond comfort, completely inconsolable.
You might not want to tell anyone what is happening because you fear misrepresenting yourself… or them. Or because it might make it more real, and you’d do anything right now for it not to be real. You might not want to hear a word spoken against them. You might go back, they might come get you, you don’t know anything.
You can know this though: you are not alone.
As bad as you feel, as disappointing and crushing as this loss is, you are not alone. Even in solitude and deep in the wailing sorrow as you are, scrambling to make sense of what the fuck just happened, you are not alone. There are many who have been exactly where you are in this dark night, and many who would, if we could, lift the burden of suffering off you for just one night to give you a chance to breathe.
And of course we can’t ease the pain right now, not with all the wishes in the world. What we can do is be here with you with our heads bowed and our hands at your back, a silent gesture of solidarity that says I know to the very marrow of my bones how bad this is for you. I am here. I bear witness to the desperate sorrow breaking open your heart, and I am here with you.
The sun will rise again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, and in as many days as it takes, one of these days you will feel, if only for the briefest moment, a tiny bit better. And that tiny bit will grow, and it will shrink again and grow again, and then suddenly you’ll be worse than you were a week ago and you’ll cry, thinking What the fuck? I thought I was doing better!
Then one day you’ll manage a smile, a laugh, a good hug with someone who loves you always. You will be able to talk about this with someone. Someone who understands compassion and kindness, and who can just be with you. Someone who understand they cannot and must not try to fix you, but will simply listen and be present with you and your suffering.
You will find support. You will feel loved, and you will feel your strength slowly start to come back. You will laugh with friends and family, and overflow with gratitude for those who helped you through this.
One day, you will dare to feel the faintest glimmer of the seeming impossibility of hope, excitement even, for your future. The shame, guilt, loss and desperation will begin to think about one day possibly subsiding. A month or two will pass, and the times when the grief comes and knocks you to the floor will have somehow become fewer. Sometimes you’ll even feel great again.
You will be aware of a version of yourself still screaming in disbelief and grief, but she will seem to be in another room, a private chamber in your heart, and you will let her be. You will not go in there and tell her to get over it or to stop crying or come out. You will allow her all the time she needs to grieve her loss, and you will honor her experience completely.
Mostly you will not go in there, but if sometimes you need to enter the room with her and rip apart the walls with wailing disappointment, you will. And that will be your healing as much as anything else you have done over this time.
Take as good care of yourself as you can. Purge your thoughts on paper, all of them, uncensored. Stay with the rhythm of what is as much as you can. Eat, sleep, get out in nature if you possibly can. Lean into the pain when you need to, but as the months come by, lean into the light of possibility too. This is a time of extraordinary and bewildering transformation.
Whatever part of the dance of life this is, you cannot yet know. You cannot know what is coming or how all this will turn out. You cannot know what will one day make sense. All you can do is stay with the rhythm of the beat that is happening now, and now, and now.
And know that you are not alone.