I’m writing every day during Advent as a way of doing my own prayer and reflection, and also as a way to connect with you. This is different than writing in my journal, both riskier and more rewarding. It’s also different than writing for publication, both safer and more autonomous.
Thanks for your comments, here and on social media, and your messages. When I told people that I had a blog, I used to follow that admission up with “my readership consists mostly of my grandma!” That was true, and now it is not. Thanks for being people whose faces and lives I can imagine as I write here, into the void.
Your responses have been making me think about how universal and deep our collective grief is, right now. Not just loss of life and love – though that toll is nearly incomprehensible and keeps mounting – but loss of so much else during this time of revelation and uncovering. We have lost routines and habits and our sense of security. We have lost trust in institutions. Lots of us have lost jobs – either by choice or not. The world is shifting underneath us, and we’re all scrambling to keep up. I’d even venture to say that if you aren’t scrambling, well, you’re either very very privileged or not paying enough attention.
I’m not an expert on grief, I’m just trying to be honest about my own. There are losses I can’t write about yet, but I know that carrying them is changing how I respond and react and what I decided to say and do. I hope I can get enough words around those losses, eventually, to say something about them. But the world also keeps changing and there isn’t quite time to process last year before the new year rears its own challenging head.
Anyway: all of that is to say that your responses to these little writings are mostly “hey, I’m grieving, too” and “I also don’t really know how to do any of this” and “yeah, let’s at least be honest about where we are.”
Here’s a tiny little piece of help that I can offer: a book of daily meditations for working through grief.
A few years ago, when my friend and mentor Mary Jo Flory-Steury died, a dear woman in my congregation gifted me a copy of Martha Hickman’s “Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief.” Her sister had died a few years earlier, and this book had been a real help for her. I found it surprisingly helpful in navigating strange, weird experiences of loss. But I met several people in my travels that shared about recent losses, and ended up sending my copy away to a BVS volunteer whose grandmother had just died, and then I sent another to someone else, and then another. This is probably my 4th copy of this little book.
There’s nothing earth-shattering in here, and probably nothing you don’t already know. There are quotes from poets and healers and philosophers, and personal meditations about what it feels like to journey through grief. There are probably better resources available – the author is not an expert, just a guide – certainly much more scientific and data-driven work on grief. But the bite-sized devotional nuggets helped me name my grief and walk through it.
Maybe that would be helpful for you, too.
We have lost a lot. A lot. A LOT. But we are still here, still grieving and hoping and scrambling and weeping and healing. And even though I think one of the symptoms of grief is feeling isolated and lonely, we are not alone. Some of the most powerful gifts in my own grief have been hearing someone say “you’re not the only one.” So, here you go: in this season of loss and grief and uncertainty and fear, when the sun is setting before dinnertime and the outside world is demanding holiday cheer, when the missing people and the empty chairs are put in stark relief, when it feels like any other reality might very well be impossible…well, you’re not the only one. There are a bunch of us feeling those feelings. Maybe the best we can do is grab one another’s hands and walk through the season together.