"What I trust is that the same love that gifted us life, gifts us death as well. What lies beyond, is up to love". -Kent Dobson, Bitten By a Camel
I read this in Kent's book recently and it struck a cord with me so deeply that it’s been ringing in my head ever since. I was raised in a religious tradition that taught after death our loved ones were in a “better place”. I was always a bit troubled by this idea and never really found it comforting. I loved my family and friends so deeply that even the idea of us not growing old together sent me into a state of sadness.
When I was 19, I lost my best friend Jen in a tragic car accident. In fact, she was so dear to me that we decided the words “best friends” were not good enough for us. We needed a special name that describes our specific friendship and no one else’s’. “OOMBF” was the name we came up with. -One of my Best Friends- is what the letters stand for (I know, we really were clever). When she died I had never experienced grief so profound in my whole life. It was so raw and painful. I still experience waves of this grief in moments where something triggers a memory of her. Her smile is permanently implanted in my brain because we laughed a lifetime full of laughs together in the years growing up. The gift of death is hard to understand when I feel this grief. She was a gift. Her life was a gift. Her death was painful.
In my work I meet many people in grief: the death of a friend, death of a parent, an affair, job loss, divorce, medical crisis, broken families. It’s painful in those moments no matter how many bows we try to tie around it. In fact none of those bows are helpful
The Holidays are not an easy time for many people because of the realities of grief. Pain and sorrow mixed with joy and laughter is a difficult tension to live in. Winter is a reminder that death is part of the story. Long nights and cold days. The frigid cold air on my face is often met with angst about warm days gone and desire for flowers and spring. Honoring the pain of this moment in the many difficult things that you are facing may bring you something surprising. I won’t attempt to clean up the grief you may experience this season, but I will encourage you to become very curious about it. The grief is there, pay attention to it, listen to it, be patient with yourself when you feel it. Let winter affect you. May you experience a Christmas that can honor the pain you are experiencing now knowing that spring will come and it is all a gift.