“What is grief, if not love persevering?” – Vision
I was standing outside the tent addressing the small crowd of family and friends that had gathered by my dad’s graveside. The June sun was hiding behind the clouds but some of the rays glistened off of the nearby fence surrounding the cemetery. I opened with my dad’s favorite joke, “Do you know why cemeteries have fences? It’s because people are dying to get in there!” He loved that joke. I went on to talk about my dad, forever the engineer, who taught me to “think ahead,” plan, tackle any problem and always leave things better than you found then. I miss him. That was 2015 yet even to this day, grief of his loss visits me.
Grief is a tricky thing. For those of you who have lost loved ones, you know how it doesn’t play by the rules. It will wash over you at the most inopportune times. It isn’t logical. It would perplex, frustrate and annoy me. I would wish it away but that usually meant it would only hide for the moment to build more energy for the next unannounced round. Instead, I have come to realize that grief is not an enemy or adversary, it is a friend. It is the echo of love that endures the separation of the source and object of that affection. It is the mind and spirit refreshing that cherished connection and celebrating the memory of that loved one. It is, as Vision from Marvel’s WandaVision put it, “love persevering.”
As we bid farewell to my wife’s mother a week ago, I am reminded how bad we are at taking care of ourselves during sorrow and loss. I wanted to jump back into work, bury myself in tasks. But instead, we spent time as a family going through my mother-in-law’s affairs. Sorting, cleaning and remembering. Sure, there was sadness, but there was also times of laughter and happiness. I’m glad we did that.
So many of you reached out with sympathy, kind words, encouragement and even help. Thank you! It was overwhelming and encouraging. I know many of you have also suffered the loss of loved ones in recent years and even shared your own journeys with me. Our human journey is not without suffering. This recent chapter in my life reminds me how important it is to give ourselves time, permission and care to remember, to grieve and even to heal. My advice to all of you who have suffered loss, and for the rest who will, make sure you give yourself that time and grace to mend. Embrace the fog of grief and welcome the memories, no matter how difficult they may be to bear. They are just visiting friends, reminding you that love does not die, it perseveres. Cherish it!