top of page

Sacred Absence

A Pilgrimage of Love, Loss & Grieving Well

“Perhaps for now it can be enough to simply marvel at the mystery of how a heart so broken can go on beating…” 

  -Jan Richardson, Blessing for the Brokenhearted


Today I woke up alone for the first time in two months. Previously during those months, one of my Anam Caras or “soul friends,” was here to chat with me and usually stayed for a while to make sure I would be okay. Some of them even stayed until the next “shift.” They have been my lifeline. They have buoyed me up when I thought I might drown. They brought me food, cried, and held quiet space for me when all I could do was bitterly lament. How do I say Thank You! to seven women who probably saved my life, and most certainly my mental and emotional health?

But because I slept until 10:30, beyond when my friend needed to leave, I could not say good-bye or even thank this one lifesaver who shared her personal gifts and talents, and gave me hope that each day would get a tiny bit better. So, Cyon is boarded, and I have been completely alone all day and it has been really hard. I can’t imagine that this is my life now; that this is going to be my life, maybe for a short time or maybe for the rest of it. I don’t know.

There is such a cognitive dissonance (or emotional dissonance) to all of this. Someone whom I loved, whose presence is everywhere in this home and at our retreat house, with whom I had so many plans, and with whom I spent my days working alongside and enjoying one another…is simply gone. Every time I think of it, think of Craig, which is often, a drop of sorrow falls into my heart until it overflows, and I must drop to the ground in sobs and pleadings from the heaviness of it.

While my biggest present challenge is to just take one day at a time, I must admit that my mind is forever racing towards the possible scary future. I wish I was stronger and could stay present with just the tasks of the day. But fears born of loneliness, enormous responsibility, and never-ending sorrow haunt my days. The falling leaves remind me that a time of winter dormancy is on its way. I watch cars drive past, SUV’s towing boats to the park, cyclists, and a couple walking their dog. Life goes on for everyone else, but I just want to vanish forever into the chilly air.

This afternoon, I watched the movie, Noah, starring Russel Crowe, who always reminded me

of Craig. They were the same height, had stocky builds, cute noses, and chubby cheeks. At

one point in the movie, he says that the flood, that absolute destruction of everything, was not an end, but a new beginning. Because I feel the utter desolation, I had to pause the movie and wail on the carpet. Some books I’m reading on grief also mention that when we experience loss, when our hearts break, we can be open for new possibilities.

I want to throw these books across the room each time I read something like that!

I guess I am not there yet. I have little motivation to get out of bed, cook, or even go outside on this beautiful fall orange and gold day. Because I want Craig to be in bed next to me, I want us to cook a big Sunday breakfast together like we used to, and I want to watch the leaves fall with him as we walk hand in hand.

As I said, I wish I was stronger and could engage in better mental, emotional, and spiritual practices. I wish I could figure out the meds and the anxiety and how they’re related. I wish I had a personal assistant. I wish I didn’t have two homes to deal with. I wish I was an independent technical genius instead of a dependent technical moron. I wish my mind could just shut off for one damn second! I want to let so much go and stop putting expectations into time frames that don’t serve me…just make me nuts.

I wish God would come down and hug me…and that the hug would feel like Craig’s.

Cindy Steffen October 2016

Here to Forever by Death Cab for Cutie

In every movie I watch from the 50s There's only one thought that swirls Around my head now And that's that everyone there on the screen Yeah, everyone there on the screen Well, they're all dead now They're all dead now And it ain't easy living above And I can't help but keep falling in love With bones and ashes With bones and ashes And when the color is too bold and bright I'm daydreaming in black and white Until it passes Until it passes I wanna know the measure From here to forever And I wanna feel the pressure Of God or whatever Oh, these days it's so hard to relax You gotta hold a gun to my back To make me smile To make me smile And the only way I seem to cope Is by trying to hold onto hope If just for a while If just for a while I wanna know the measure From here to forever And I wanna feel the pressure Of God or whatever Now it seems more than ever There's no hands on the levers And I wanna feel the pressure Of God or whatever Only rollers keep rolling While the searchers keep scrolling I want to know the measure from here to forever And I want to feel the passion of God or whatever Now it seems more than ever There’s no hands on the lever Holy Rollers Keep Rollin While the searchers keep scrollin.’


Benjamin Gibbard, Zac Rae


© Cindy K Steffen  2023

bottom of page