Monday, December 8, 2014

Uncommon Wisdom on Making Peace with Loss

I’m feeling adrift and uncertain lately as I contemplate making some major life changes. I’m afraid of venturing into the unknown from this place of vulnerability, unsure whether my desire for change comes from a reliable source. I am not who I was, and don’t know yet who I am becoming in the wake of this loss. I am taking steps toward making peace with it, but not always clear about the next move. Common wisdom says you shouldn’t make big decisions when grieving. But I need to make some changes in order to have the time to grieve and write.

In the past few days, I received some uncommon wisdom from friends and fellow survivors.

When I told my dear, oldest friend that I was afraid I might see this decision differently later on, once I was more at peace with Noah’s suicide, she said, “When you are more at peace, you will be able to use that energy for the things you love and want to do.  And if peace still eludes you at times, you will have the space to do the grief work and other things for yourself that you are not able to do now.” This is perfectly clear to my friend, though it is still murky to me; I thank her for showing me a way forward.

At a holiday gathering of survivors on the theme of making peace with our loss, I was struck by simple statements from people who lost loved ones eight or more years ago: From a woman who lost her sister, “I have made peace with no peace.” From someone I can’t recall, “Don’t be afraid to remember.” And from another mother who lost her young adult son, one word: “endure.” She said that has been her watchword for getting through the pain and for what she wants to happen with her child’s memory. She wrote her son’s name and “endure” on a tag attached to a lovely origami crane as part of the closing activity at the gathering. We were told that cranes symbolize healing, happiness, and spiritual enlightenment in Japanese and Chinese tradition. For my crane, I could only think to write, for Noah and myself: “May your memory be for a blessing. And may all who loved you find that blessing.”

To my fellow survivors: What is your watchword? How do you find that next step?

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