Feeling the void before filling it
“You don’t know who is important to you until you actually lose them.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi’s words resound in our time together this week as we explore the void of loss and sorrow. For many of us, this may be a week you would just as soon avoid because the reality is this: we avoid sorrow and its close companions, grief and suffering.
Whatever your spiritual or religious heritage, we could all benefit from the Buddhist tenet that if we live, we will suffer. Death will come, and we will grieve. No one escapes this truth. Yet we do little to prepare for it. I get it. Thinking about death is hard — talking about it impossible for some.
Then the inevitable comes — loss. The sorrow from the void of a life gone can be unbearable. The missing energy is palpable. Here is where immeasurable loss meets the inevitable emptiness.
We have options to cope with our grief.
Avoidance is a common one. For some, it’s the only roadback to normalcy. Anything to ease the pain, because the void is suffocating. Busyness, distraction, preoccupation, even replacement to help the grieving up and off the floor and fill their broken heart with diversion.
We may decide that we’ll never allow ourselves to experience loss again. Lady Gaga sang of this in a “Star is Born.”
“Don’t wanna give my heart away
To another stranger
Or let another day begin
Won’t even let the sunlight in
No, I’ll never love again … ”
The risk of life-shattering heartbreak is just too great. Nothing or no one will ever be allowed in the sacred sphere where the heart resides.
There’s no judgment here, Beloved. We each journey through our life experiences with the tools we have and try to keep moving forward. What works for others may not work for you, and that is all right. Ignore those who choose to criticize your journey to healing. Their need to do so is a reflection of their own pain.
Yet, there is another way to get back to life after loss.
It isn’t for everyone. Walking this path requires a level of trust that it will bring a sense of inner peace and assurance that despite your suffering, all is well deep within your soul.
It’s the path my husband and I have chosen with our dogs, for in the last five years we have lost seven of them. They were so close in age when we rescued them. We knew the ending would be like this. Recognizing that doesn’t make it any easier, nor were we any more prepared to deal with the abyss of grief caused by their passing, one right after another — sometimes within weeks of each other. With each dog’s passing, the energy shift from a home with dogs to a home grieving dogs oftentimes has been unbearable.
Our last dog died in October of 2019. Sometimes the quiet in our home seems surreal — unnatural. How can I, who rescued and provided homes for hundreds of dogs over the years, live this way? With each dog’s arrival and inevitable departure, whether through adoption or death, our lives were changed immensely.
I need a season to honor this journey in our lives before moving to the next phase. I’m sure it will involve a dog — or two — sometime in the future. For now, I’ll continue to push out and experience this sacred void before deciding what needs to arrive to fill it. Today, that seems like the only way to close this chapter of loving and losing.
Beloved, where does your sorrow find you today? Are you distracted, are you rejecting another’s presence to protect the heart, or is it somewhere in between? Check in with yourself again and again. The shifts are subtle, and you must listen closely to hear what is needed to move you through grief, then heal and prepare you to return to life.
For it is in that moment of choosing love that we honor those we have loved and lost.
Blessed journey, my friend.