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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


For some reason, the last three days have been emotionally brutal. I think it is because I am finally feeling the full weight of what this loss means. I now spend most of my time alone in this house doing daily chores that must be done...or not. Today my thoughts were consumed with the fact that there is no soft spot where I can land each day. No comfort. No companion who is just there for me to talk about all the big and small daily events in our lives.

They say the first year after a loved one's death is all about that…firsts. This weekend I fell and hurt myself and had to deal with it all alone; without my doting husband to bind my wounds and love on me. While playing with my dog, Cyon, I lunged to chase her and tripped on a small honeysuckle stump. The painful part was landing on another sharp one sticking

out of the ground right on my cold thigh. Hurt like you-know-what!

The tears that came were not because of the pain in my leg but the pain in my heart. I remember looking up at the house, like in Wyeth's painting, Christina's World, knowing he was not there, cooking breakfast, ready and willing to take care of me, and say jokingly, "That’s gonna leave a mark." And it did. The person I was most comfortable with and who would comfort me with all seriousness and humor, is gone.

All other relationships seem strained in some way by my grief, as well. I am not myself. I almost don't know how to be a friend anymore. I want company, but I don't. I'm conscious that I am a broken record of sadness. Today I cried on the family room floor and then laid on the guest bed for an hour just staring out the window, drained of emotion. Yet other times I feel so much anger and irritation.

As a friend explained it, "You want what you cannot have and what you have you do not want." It all makes me feel like a wounded child who doesn't know how to cope with a serious situation. At times I honestly don't know if I can cope with this. How do I let go of someone I have loved for 35 years, and who showed me love almost every day of those three decades? I feel trapped in an impossible state of being.

Then there are the questions rattling in my head. Am I stuck? Am I on track with this f***ing grieving process? Will I ever be whole and happy again? Am I courageous enough to make the choices I need to heal? I can feel the temptation to stay in the grief because it connects me to Craig, even if in a negative way. Because the thought of this wonderful real person, with whom I was SO connected, eventually being put on the "back burner" or "tucked away in my heart" makes my chest tighten and my soul burst into tears (which I actually just did).

Yes, I know grieving takes time and is non-linear. But this has been an endless crash course in mourning, with my birthday in September, then Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, all fast-tracked within four months of his death. My nerves and spirit are rattled and broken. All my body, soul, and spirit keep saying is, "I don't want this!" Because I don't. Because I didn't ask for it. Because I've yet to find any meaning behind it. Because three months ago I was happy. Because three months ago I thought God was leading us towards a new, exciting destination together.

Couldn't have been more wrong, Cindy.


© Cindy K Steffen  2023

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