Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Grief is Love in Person

It is not easy to get a picture of grief
 even with tears streaming down our cheeks
 because that is not the whole story.   
In some small way, are not those tears, tears of love.  
Perhaps grief is Love in Person!

Grief is a little out of focus in my life at the moment;
for this reason I have chosen an out-of- focus dead leaf to depict grief.
But is the leaf really dead?  Or, is there more to that story also?
As Paul Harvey used to say,
...and that's the rest of the story!
It's your story,  too,  so you can decide.

My word for April is GRIEF.  I thought it was going to be tenderness or maybe gentleness because I see so much of that in Pope Francis.  However as things begin to unfold toward the end of March I knew that grief was trying to get my attention. It is difficult to find a picture of grief because almost every image of grief could also be named, LOVE.  Why do we grieve except because we have loved?

It all began when a dear friend from Chicago, Dottie, had to undergo a 7 hour surgery because of an aorta aneurysm.  Her sister assured me that I could give her a call before the surgery.  I intended to call her but I allowed my work to be my priority.  I decided to call her after her  recovery.  She came through the intense surgery and it seemed that all might be well but there were complications and so there will be no recovery in the sense I was imagining.

Dottie was once a member of my Benedictine community in Fort Smith Arkansas and I have wonderful memories.  How odd that her death should be heart-related when she had such a benevolent heart..  Her heart was present wherever and whenever there was need.  She was a visionary woman and a wonderful teacher.  She taught even when she wasn't officially teaching.  She taught by living well.   She was a cancer survivor.  And now the heart!

I have wonderful memories of being in the novitiate together at St. Scholastica.  On summer evenings before the sun set we used to climb out on the roof of the monastery and read to each other.  Our choice of reading material was stuff like, Winnie the Pooh, Huckleberry Finn, The Wind in the Willows, etc.  Being on the roof was illegal by monastery rules but oh, what fun, especially when the sun set and we had to close our books and just be in all that beauty.  And we would laugh!   I can still hear her laugh--surely one of the best laughs ever created!

Another funny memory is when I was visiting in Chicago and we went to see the movie GROUND HOG DAY.   I can hardly recall the story line if there was one, but there was a lot of repetition:  people doing the same thing over and over until they learned from it I guess.  After the movie she went to the window and asked if maybe we could have our money back because the projector got stuck and the same thing kept playing over and over.  Only Dottie!  We laughed so hard about that and for a few years we sent each other Ground Hog Day cards.  I was reminded of that when shortly after her death I was at a cabin  nearby preparing for an upcoming retreat and Lo and Behold I saw a groundhog and wondered if Dorothy was playing a joke on me.

I have decided that grief is like a little person that we need to lovingly invite into our homes.  It seems necessary to welcome grief and have time for it rather than just stay busy to dull the feelings.  One of my problems with grief is that I often live as though I don't have time for it.  I can remain rather numb until eventually I just sort of numb my way back into daily life,  and grief, that child of love, is locked out of my life.  And that's a shame because truly grief is love IN PERSON. -   I have been thinking quite a lot about grief these days.  I need to take a long, slow walk with grief--maybe we even need to start 'dating' ----  We might eventually marry; and that will mean integration is finally taking place.  There are many dwellers in my household and grief has every right to an honored place at the table.  If I allow grief to sit at my table she will discover that she has many sisters and brothers surrounding her.  There is courage and hope, new beginnings, sorrow and joy, delight, forgiveness.  The list is infinite.  But that's all for now!  
To be continued...


  1. this is beautiful. I too am a cancer survivor.. 13 years nearly! and I did not grieve the loss of so much all those years ago.. and now.. grief is visiting.. in big, heart wrenching sobs.. sometimes darkness... I love your words on grief.. if I may, I would like to take them as my own, changing them to suit my own experience. just for myself, to read often..

  2. You wrote....grief could also be named, LOVE. Why do we grieve except because we have loved?

    Thank YOU for the deeper GIFT of Love!!!


  3. Hummm, grief -
    "April is the cruelest month" - and I have been experiencing more grief than joy since Easter.
    Thank you Macrina - a word I will ponder all month

  4. thinking more of the "serendipidy" of the groundhog...
    Years ago, after I had mixed some of my husband's cremated remains into the sea (a ritual we had discussed) - as I walked pensive away from the shore, a small twin-engine plane appeared above the horizon, coming my way; as it passed, it "flipped" its wings as a "hello".
    As a teenager, my husband had taken flying classes, but was never able to be a pilot due to a health issue. It was a dream he had to let go of - and he often spoke to me of this...THERE HE WAS - FLYING AT LAST! For you, a groundhog; for me, a small plane. These appearances are miracles of the Spirit at play - in grief!

  5. Those little miracles or serendipidies do occur - the invisible thread between us and those we love who have moved to the next step. Carry the grief but also carry the joy of the memories that are always with us.

  6. My mother died at the age of 59 in July 2011 from cancer. I am still grieving but surprisingly find moments where there are good things to make things easier. Like cardinals, her favorite bird, showing up periodically. Or on her birthday, March 31, the 4-year old son of a friend gave me a piece of artwork, not knowing it was her birthday. Grief isn't easy but it's better to walk with it than stuff it down.