by Joanne Dehmer SSND
In the summer sun and an early darkening sky, I sit at the edge of a lake reflecting on the meaning of these months of 2018. It has been a time of surrender, surrender to the unknown.
In January after experiencing extreme tiredness for too long a time, my cardiologist scheduled an angiogram, revealing three blockages. A stent, changes in meds, months of cardiac rehab followed. While feeling grateful for the help given and return of energy, I became also aware of my need to let go of my former identity of my healthy self and say yes to a new identity of living with heart disease and the possibility of future surgery.
After just beginning Cardiac Rehab I received a phone call, unexpected, unannounced, unwanted, my beloved nephew Nick died. Died by suicide. Silence. More silence. Shock. Disbelief. Pain. Loss. Fear. Sorrow. Vulnerable. Powerless. Confused. Brokenhearted… I felt like I was drowning, drowning in feelings. No words, just feelings filled me. I, with Nick’s parents, his wife and children, his sisters and brothers and countless relatives and friends came together and continue with one another to grieve one so loving and loved. We are sustained through our faith. We discover strength with our storytelling. We find support in our compassionate relationships. We allow our grief to transform us into compassion toward those still with us. There was one moment Nick lost hope and we are not forgetting the 41 years of a loving life he lived. He was a giver of love and now became a receiver of Greater Love.
This I am certain, grief has no time limit, for it cannot be rushed or avoided. It is painful and slow. It asks of us to treat ourselves and others with great tenderness and care. “Surrender to the unknown marks the great transitions of the spiritual journey. On the brink of each new breakthrough there is a crisis of trust and of love…God returns at the appropriate time to call us forth from our darkness and grief.” The Better Part, pp20-21, Thomas Keating
You might ask yourself…
- When have I been called to surrender to the unknown?
- Who or what helped me move through the process of discovering a new identity?
- For what or for whom do I grieve?
- What sustains me in my grief?
May vision be granted to you
To see this (loss) with the eyes of providence.
May your loss become a sanctuary
Where new presence will dwell
To refine and enrich
The rest of your life
With courage and compassion.
To Bless the Space Between Us, John O’Donohue