Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday, I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another. To follow, please leave your email address.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Loving Differently

This is a reflection not on romantic love, but love.

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I love you, even though we have never met. I love you because you have suffered a terrible loss and are grieving. I know how important it is to feel love from other people, even people you don’t know.

I love you because you have loved deeply and howled for the life that has been ripped away. I love you because you valued yourself enough to get off the floor and fight back, unwilling to give in to death. I love you because, in the midst of your pain, you set this aside to show compassion to others when you saw them suffering.

I love you without strings, even though I don’t know how to do this well. And to say something like this, well, it scares me.

To love freely, without expectations from either of us, is this even possible?

In her poem “To have without holding,” Marge Piercy says learning to love differently is hard. It is difficult to love with hands wide open, to love without holding, to love and let go, again and again. I want to love like this because after people came and cared for me in the early months of my grief, they slipped away unobtrusively, their work done. My gratitude to them runs deep.

If you are reading this, then chance threw us together for a reason. Or maybe there was no chance, and no reason, just fate. Or if you don’t believe in fate and you’re not reading this, then don’t worry. It doesn’t matter why or how we connected. We are trying to keep up with love’s great demands, and we are learning to trust love again.

Love is not an illusion. It’s damn hard work. To love you requires that I open my heart to your pain. This threatens to pull me back into grief and leaves me vulnerable to my own despair again. But this is a risk I am willing to take.

It takes courage to share your grief and be vulnerable in front of others. It takes courage to allow them to help. It takes courage for them to come not knowing if what they bring will be helpful, needed, or accepted. It takes courage for you to risk loving others again.

I wish to love differently, without attachments or expectations, because there is much suffering in the world. So many people need a kind word, a moment of our listening, and nothing more than this. To know that someone else understands, that someone else has endured a similar grief, helps ease the sorrow.

This love I am speaking about is stronger than death. It continues after someone we love dies. This love burns with a blazing fire. It does not ever go out.

Love does not come prepackaged in a box. Love is a river that surges through the mountains of our lives. The more we allow love to flow where it wills, the deeper it cuts channels and canyons into our hearts, wearing away what is hard and bitter, until all that is left is love.

I wish for us to share today what each other needs.


4 comments:

  1. "I want to love like this because after people came and cared for me in the early months of my grief, they slipped away unobtrusively, their work done. My gratitude to them runs deep." - "So many people need a kind word, a moment of our listening, and nothing more than this. To know that someone else understands, that someone else has endured a similar grief, helps ease the sorrow." Thank you for this collection of beautiful thoughts. It feels like a promise to yourself. A promise to show up and exist. I am glad you are here, Mark. I am glad you show up and share your words.

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    1. Ah, it is people like you, Elea, that inspires me to write such things.

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  2. Thank you for this, Mark. It is beautiful. I share the gratitude you spoke of, for the people who wrapped their arms around me when I was in my deepest grief. And I, too, want to open my arms wide, to others who need it, which is all of us. It is hard work and it is the most important thing we can do for the planet. I am sharing this. Hope you don't mind.

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    1. Thank you, Tricia. One way you open your heart is through your insightful writings about grief.

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