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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


On my walk “weeping walk” with Cyon this morning, I prayed through tears about something that I know in my heart is way too premature, but I did it anyway out of desperation. I asked God to help me find new meaning in my life and in Craig's death. I know this won't happen for a long time...the experts say two to three years. The experts also say we may need more time than that to heal. I'm pretty sure it will be longer for me.

But sometimes when the pain of losing him visits, the only thing I can think is that I don't want this loss to be wasted. I'm reading a very good book (I recommend it to non-grievers as well) called, The Courage to Grieve. The author, Judy Tatelbaum, says there are three phases a person must travel through in their grief. And we know these travels are extremely non-linear, much like a car losing control and careening all over the road.

1. First, is Shock

2. Second, Suffering and Disorganization

3. Third, Aftershocks and Reorganization

There is no set timetable for any of this, of course. It is highly individual. Some days I feel like I am somewhere in transition between #1 and #2, some days between #2 and #3, and other days between #0 and #1. Some days I pass a framed photograph of Craig, and I remember every inch of his face, how his lips felt, how cute his nose and ears were, how his cheek felt against mine, how reassuring his smile...and I just can't believe it. Some days I pass by and lay the frame down so I can’t see him. I shake my head, my stomach flops, and I walk away saying out loud, "Where are you, Craig?” I wish I knew. I wish death wasn’t such a damn mystery.

Other days I suffer through feelings of being lost, unmoored from any real life, and uninterested in most things; a complete disorganization of who I was at one time. Another loss…losing oneself. But now I find myself thinking more about him and not so much about how I’m going to cope. The first three months were all about just surviving and questioning…how am I possibly going to get through this? How did this horrible thing happen? Why did this horrible thing happen?

Now it’s about missing the real man, my husband, and his love for me. It’s about seeing how much he did for us. It is missing the tangible comfort of Friday nights, knowing we were going to grill out or get Chinese “takeaway,” have a drink on the deck, and watch a movie together. Those are the small, familiar connections that make a relationship strong and content. Today there is little comfort to look forward to on this or any other Friday night.

So, I write, which is a slight comfort. These postings are not meant to be prose or even good writing. They are just my thoughts. It helps me process and RE-organize whatever new life this is. It helps pass the time. I’m realizing that I want to write about him and us because I am now the sole repository of all the memories of our life together. I want to talk about him. I want others to talk about him because it can feel like he is fading away. It is one of the “widow’s rules” – talk about the deceased and let the survivor talk about them. It does not make us sad. It tells us you are thinking of him, too. We want to hear that you miss him and why. We want more than anything to get through this long heartbreak while keeping our loved one’s memory alive. Craig had an amazing life story. We had a wonderful life together. Please don’t forget him or the one he left behind.


© Cindy K Steffen  2023

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