It seems that everywhere I look these days I see people who are grieving.
One friend is dealing with a mastectomy. She had been diagnosed with cancer, which is now apparently gone, but so are her beasts, breasts which she loved, celebrated, saw in a way as attached friends. She feels deep grief and deep gratitude all at once.
Another friend lost her teen aged son to a freak accident, and is in the throes of a nightmarish, life-gutting grief that all but drowns her.
At age 57, all around me are friends who are dealing with the decline, loss or the immanent loss of parents. We stumble into orphanhood at middle age and find ourselves totally without the tools to understand our new status in life.
And, as if our personal losses were not enough, we are beset and besieged by a world at war. The news tells us of sudden tornadoes in unlikely places, bridge collapses, melting polar ice caps and mine cave-ins. We can no longer count on either the weather or the infrastructure.
What on earth keeps any of us going? What makes it possible to wake up in the morning and be about the business of our days?
I'd love an easy answer here, one that said it was just some sort of inborn pluckiness of spirit, or instantly self-renewing faith, or some happy-gene that kicks in that suddenly performs the alchemy that turns grief into joy. But life is not that simple.
What keeps most of us going is each other. As women, with our unique ability to bond at such a deep level, we have (as Sandra Oh's character says in Grey's Anatomy) our "go to" person -- that friend that we turn to when life is hard going. We have families of men and women, the fierce love of our children, and groups of beloveds that let us ride in their arms when we cannot carry ourselves. We encounter the kindness of strangers. We have people we can count on to love us. If that is not a miracle, I do not know what is.
Our faith sustains many of us, but most often it is the way that faith speaks to us through the loving kindness of other people.
It takes a village to raise a child? Have mercy, it takes a village to keep most adults moving one step in front of the other when the clouds gather and the walking gets weary. We hold each other up, help our friends from stumbling, bandage the spiritual knees of our children and all our loved ones.
I wish in the deepest most loving part of my heart that our world's nations cared for each other the way loving women friends do. I wish we would say, as a nation, that we will love ourselves like that, heal our nation's sorrows like that. I wish we would bandage up our world's wounds and help her stand proudly on her feet the way we do for each other.
I have linked to some very special blogs in this post, very moving stories told by and about women who deal with grief. Please honor them with your time. The last one listed takes 5 minutes to view, and is well worth every second.
What keeps you afloat when life is hardest? Where do you turn?
Ruby in Mother in Mourning writes about the loss of her daughter and the serious illness of her mother.
I know that some people would prefer to be alone. Like, don't talk to me, look at me, and never, EVER try to comfort me! On the other hand some like the support, the shoulder of an understanding friend or family member, they NEED someone to cry with. What if your not sure? You want to be alone yet want to know that someone understand. REALLY, like I've been through this too, understands. Or even, I don't understand but I won't pretend to and I'll be there for you no matter what.
After seven miscarriages and the death of her father, the diagnosis of a best friend with cancer and her own cancer scare, Jill of Knocked Up..Knocked Down announces the birth of an adopted daughter.. As she looks back over her grief she says
To add to all this the prospect that our hopes of adopting a baby could be dashed by my own potential cancer diagnoses on two separate fronts...well, it was almost too much.But it was not quite too much. Through God's grace, I kept functioning, getting up and going to the office daily, as usual, getting my job done, going to church, cooking, trying to eat healthy foods, going for walks in the evening, being a wife, daughter, sister, friend. My sister said, "I don't know how you keep going," but really, what other choice is there? I just kept on going because there isn't any other good option. Still, I felt so tired, so worn out. I miss my dad so much and still found myself crying often about it. I kept trying to pray, even though I didn't feel much like it. I went to prayer services at church and had people pray for me and with me, and believed that it would have to help in some way, even if my circumstances didn't improve. I knew I had to hang on to my faith in God even when I wasn't emotionally feeling it.
Chicky Chicky Baby is grappling with the accumulation of multiple losses and says in her post Thoughts on grieving
No, really, I'm fine.
Oh, thank you. But I'm fine.
Well, I'm okay. But don't worry about me. I'm fine.
She also vows after returning from BlogHer to the deathbed of a loved one – to banish the word “fine” from her vocabulary.
Carole is mother to two living children. Joseph, who would have been her third, died after one hour of life. Journey From Here, her diary of her grieving is moving and inspirational
I saw this quote somewhere after Joseph was born...and I think of it often. It sums up the way I feel...
Lord, I wanted to hold my little boy on my lap and tell him about You.Since I can't do that, will you hold him on Your lap and tell him about me?~Anonymous~
And finally, a deeply moving link that had me in tears – on the blog News From The Wilderness of Art As Prayer, the story is told in a Utube film of Kaziah Hancock, an artist who touches the grief of families she has never met.
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