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.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Broken Like Pottery

Death breaks us like pottery. Grief is what we do with the pieces.

We can remain broken and conclude that this is our new reality. By doing so, we honor the relationship we had with the one who died. It is saying that this relationship was so important that we do not want to change anything and risk losing what we have left. We want to sit and savor it, feeling that nothing outside this relationship matters.

For a time we need to be broken. We need to experience our brokenness without trying to fix it, as my friend Megan says. We need to acknowledge that right now we are not okay, and we need to acknowledge this.

We are no longer whole. Fracture lines appear throughout us. Yet these cracks in our protective shell are where the light is able to come through and reach our darkness. And this is how the compassion of others is able to reach the places where we are hurting.

There comes a time, though, when we find that we want to go on living. We begin picking up our pieces and assembling what we have left.

The love of others is the resin that holds our shattered pieces together.

Yet, no matter how skillfully the repairs are done, our cracks are still evident, if not to our eyes, then to our fingertips as we stroke the surface.

In the Japanese art of kintsugi, cracks in valuable pottery are repaired with a resin that includes precious metals like gold, silver or platinum that accent the cracks. It is honoring the experiences of grief rather than trying to hide them away.

Cracks in pottery are like the lines on the weathered faces of our elders — wisdom lines, laugh lines, and the lines left by sorrow and hardship. The lines on our hearts are the maps of our journeys.

Being broken and repaired is part of living a life of the heart.

The cracks affirm that death is part of everyone’s life, that outside forces sometimes control us, that grief is forever part of us, and that life continues to go on despite death.

We may feel strong, yet even a granite mountain that rises into the sky has fractures. Molten magma seeps into the cracks, bonds the places that are weak, and makes the mountain stronger.

I am more valuable to others now because I have been broken, because grief has taught me to notice where others are broken, and it has taught me how to share the resin of compassion that I have received.

A face without lines is an empty canvas.
A heart that hasn't been broken does not understand the strength of love.

Eyes not softened with sorrow hold only surface wisdom.

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