Gripped by Grief

Tonight I almost couldn’t bear to write.

It was easier to think about starting on the piles of laundry, and losing myself in a British period-piece miniseries (there are some other great ones out right now for those mourning the end of Downton Abby).

Tonight I’m wrecked by grief. It’s logged in my throat and my chest. Like a potato I’ve swallowed whole and can’t seem to dislodge.

Only this grief isn’t about what I’ve lost. It’s about what’ I’ve got to lose.

I guess fear could be closer to the word. I feel this sinking feeling of something slipping away, and I’m grieving my life without it. Only I haven’t lost anything yet.

That’s the worst part of it – to be sitting with this potato! – and wondering whether I’m gripped by irrational anxiety, or my better intuition.

A friend recommended the book “A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art you Were Made to Live.” There are many, many gems in here about how we are all artists in this life. This week I was moved by what Emily Freeman says about grief:

Grief does deep, important, sacred work. We have to pay attention to what grieves us and be willing to be fully human, both in what makes us come alive and what has the capacity to shut us down. What breaks our heart reminds us of what is deeply important to us. It is often from this place that our most beautiful, honest, generous art comes. (Freeman, A Million Little Ways)

And in the end, I know that this is truth: to be human is to sometimes be heartbroken. And what a gift this is! That we can soar with love and gratitude so fierce that we feel loss equally deeply when it comes.

So I breathe. Already the potato has moved down from my chest, into my upper stomach. By tomorrow morning it may be gone. And I’ll be standing in church singing of God’s love for me that embraces all this grief, all this joy, and everything in between. And how awesome is that.