“I am always tripping over the ones who are gone, banging my shin on an absence, catching my toe on a place where someone used to be.”
– Anne Benvenuti, 2011
I love that Anne Benvenuti added the year to this poem, as if marking time on the continuum of grief. She seems to say, “I was at some point deep in my grief and now it only catches me in unexpected ways, at unexpected times – I have healed but sometimes it still trips me … to remind me that I have loved, to remind me that I will always be healing.”
Are we ever ready for the death of a loved one? No, not ever, not even if it has been a long illness. We may be relieved that their suffering is over, but the loss of their presence in our lives often brings unfathomable grief. We must find ways to keep living – to eat and drink and walk and talk and read and maintain our own lives – when we may wish to do otherwise. We have to find our new way of being in the world.
Grief has been called a symptom of real love, a side effect. There is no way not to experience grief if we are alive; our hearts know that to love is to risk grieving. Our hearts also know that loving is worth that risk.
Grief takes many forms and has its own timetable … its own path along the continuum. There is no one right way.
Simple things can help us process our grief, be tender and gentle and compassionate with ourselves and others. We must allow for the process. At the Healing Service this Friday at 7 p.m. in the Chapel, there will be a weeping bowl to hold our tears and let them overflow, and a lighting of candles of remembrance and hope. If this resonates with you about any grief you are feeling in your life right now, you are warmly invited to attend.
Here is another Benvenuti poem from 2004:
The tongue of my heart
probes the space where you were,
like an empty tooth socket.
And the fingers of my heart
press on that spot over and over,
unconsciously seeking to feel
the bruised tenderness there,
where a thousand times a day
I said to you, “Sweetheart,
sweetheart …” Where
there is pain, there is life.
And your death will take
some getting used to.