A dear friend of mine is in the final stages of losing her husband. She is handling the situation with grace and openness. I am so proud of her. It reminds me of several things. First, a quote by CS Lewis:
“Bereavement is not the truncation of married love, but one of its regular phases—like the honeymoon. What we want is to live our marriage well and faithfully through that phase too.” C.S. Lewis
CS Lewis, reminds us of something important. Often we think of the death of a spouse or loved one as the end of our relationship with them. He reminds us that it’s just the transition to another chapter in our relationship with them. While their physical body may be gone their spirit remains.
Oprah spoke on this when her friend Maya Angelou passed.
“…now that she’s gone, I think I value and love her even more. Without the density of her body, I can better feel the intensity of her spirit.” Oprah Winfrrey
Openness is the key to unlocking the blessings of bereavement. Often we resist feeling sadness. Preferring numbness to grief. But the sadness we feel is what stands witness to the love we felt when those we loved are gone. And while we feel grief, we should also remember to be open to continuing to receive the love they felt for us. It echoes in our memories we have of them and in the memories others have as well.
Second, more personally, it reminds me of an unexpected blessing our family received when my grandfather passed. Often in the haze and fog of the wake and funeral preparations some very basic necessities get lost. Our neighbor without asking left a fully prepared meal in our home while we were all attending the funeral.
We came home to a stock pot of homemade spaghetti sauce, pasta, fresh salad and several loaves of Italian bread. Up until that moment I don’t think any of us had even thought about dinner.
Her thoughtfulness resonates still, not only in the warmth I feel, even now, remembering her kindness. But also as a teaching moment, as I think of how I’d like to support my friend during her time of sadness.
We don’t know how our actions impact others. I try to keep this in my heart and mind as I travel through my days. Kindness, openness, thoughtfulness. They should be a litany, a prayer, whose physical evidence is in every interaction we have with others.
Winfrey, Oprah. What I Know For Sure. O Magazine. Oprah Remembers Dr. Angelou