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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


I went to see my doctor today to discuss meds and the blood work I had done last week. It felt necessary to get a physical sooner than later, as kind of a “grief baseline” for this next phase of life. Evidently, I’m fairly healthy, which catapults me into “future think,” where I can only envision myself living a long, sad life without Craig. Secretly, I think I was hoping for the “you’ve got six months to live” talk. Not really. But it would make things easier and sometimes my active mind goes to strange places in my waking hours.

I’m also secretly wishing I could dream in my non-waking hours. Ironically, I learned that while on sleeping medications, you never really get to that dream state, which is when some of the healing takes place. Every night I ask Craig to show up in my dreams, but so far, nothing. One of the books I’ve been reading confirmed this condition, and suggested I ask friends if they have had dreams about Craig - that perhaps their dreams communicate something meaningful. As it turns out, two of our friends had dreams and believe Craig is with them in spirit, guiding them, and still giving the wisdom he gave them while on earth.

When I got back from the doctor's visit, I had a really “good” cry. To be clear and share most authentically, these are not tears you cry watching a sad movie. These are tears from someplace so deep I can barely catch my breath, as if grief threatens to overtake my autonomic system and suffocate me. You often see children cry this way during a meltdown. You worry they will turn blue and drop. I don’t even recognize the sounds that come from me when I cry this way. I’ve never made them before because I’ve never mourned a loss so deeply before.

After two months, my Anam Cara team has mostly returned to their lives, which is how it should be. It was extremely hard for me, though, to let go of that comfort. Overnight stays are replaced by daily texts or phone calls, letting me know that they are holding me up to God and that I am not alone. These women saved my life, or at the very least, my sanity, early on. There is nothing I can do to thank them, except perhaps to grieve well. I am trying to do this by not holding emotions inside, getting out now and then, seeing a grief counselor, journaling what’s in my heart, reading books on grief, taking care of necessary business, going for (weeping) walks, and asking for practical, as well as divine help. That’s my life. It’s all I can do.

I notice that I feel most sorrowful both in the early morning, right after waking up to the realization of my life now...and in the late afternoon. I think the latter gets to me most because there is no longer the loving expectation of Craig’s return from work. Usually around 4:00 he would text with, or I would ask for, an ETA (estimated time of arrival). Then when he was actually leaving, he would just send the words “Heading Home,” and I would text back, “Yay!” Our last text like that was on August 16, 2016, seven days before his death. Now the days are just hour upon hour, strung together, with no anticipation that the person you love most in the world will be home soon…or ever. He did head Home...just not ours. And to be clear and share most authentically, sometimes that thought is a small comfort…a very small comfort for now.


© Cindy K Steffen  2023

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