However did I come to have so many wise friends?

Please don’t read this post and think that I’m calling up to you from the basement of Despair.  It’s all about seeking and I hope there will never cease to be mysteries, puzzles, or simply questions.  That I will never believe that I have found all that I need to know. And while it all sounds rather glum, these wise words that resonate for me are almost always part of an encounter filled with joy and laughter and gratitude for the countless blessings for which I give thanks.

I am blessed with a circle of many wise friends, and have gleaned so many simple bits of advice from them and various other sources that  apply to life in general, and some to life more immediate.  hey pop into mind at times when I need to be reminded, so I decided that I would keep a list, and I decided because my webpage hasn’t has any random musings in … oh, at least a week, that I would share them with you.

It has been pointed out to me by a very wise woman I was fortunate enough to find when I first realized that I was suddenly in a dark and frightening place, that I seem to have been “gifted” with a walloping  measure of compassion. Our brains, she said, are like big sponges.  They can absorb a whole lot of both the big and the small sorrows we experience, or for which feel empathy our friends, or sometimes for people we’ve never even met, just heard about, or read about.  I have no doubt that herein lay my motivation for choosing social work as a career.  And herein is also  one of the roots of a period of anxiety and depression over which I feel I’m finally gaining some control. Or as much as I need.  That need to be in control … what a curse.

So to keep it simple, so many words that have helped:

Grief is like a  Russian matryoshka doll.  You open the fresh grief, and nestled inside is another and another and another.  (from my wise friend, Catherine Fuller)

 Put on your own oxygen mask first.  (another of Catherine’s)

Anxiety is a feeling looking for a home. (I can’t find the original source, but cautionary advice from someone who has helped to keep me on my feet)

Grief is normal, natural and necessary.  And so are tears. (this one from several wise ones)

Remember that healing in grief is heart-based, not head-based.  (from the same wise woman who cautioned about anxiety’s home-seeking)

To those who tell you to “get over it, we all have bad times” or “it’s been months now, surely you’re not still weeping” use whatever expletive feels best in telling them to get lost.   Advice to myself from experience and giving myself permission to say exactly what I feel.

From my aunt, who I watched move graciously around the room after my mother’s funeral, consoling, and urging everyone to eat – the answer in my family to a lot of problems—when I asked her how she learned to do this so well.  “It’s just through experience, sweetheart, and I’ve had a lot of experience. You will too.”

It seems to me that at least part of this life is learning to let the anguish, grief, horror, and sorrow  of life wash over us — or maybe through us — without letting it claim us. …I’m sure the ebb and flow of these days is part of a deep river of mercy….and that all will be well. (from Pastor Laura who is there to help me find the peaceful place in my heart when I so often need to go there)

 “I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.”  ― Anne Lamott from Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith

And finally, from Robert, and each of my three wonderful children who regularly ask, How are you doing, Mom? And who really do want to know.

 Oh, I know there are books full of the obvious bits of wisdom that suddenly leap off the page at us as profound, but for now, this is what I feed on in that tradition of my family that for every trouble of sorrow, there is a casserole, an apple pie, or a loaf of bread to be delivered.  And as long as I show no signs of lack of appetite, please know that I’m “okay.’  🙂

10 thoughts on “However did I come to have so many wise friends?

  1. When grief, both personal grief and the grief for the world that is often felt by compassionate empathetic people, washes over and through us it is sometimes better to float for a while than to struggle and flail. You will reach the shore when it is time.

    • And the grief of the world, if we allow it to, will surely drown us. I’ve stopped flailing and started listening and truly believing that the world and life truly is what it is. When he was asked what he’d do if he knew the world was going to end tomorrow, Martin Luther said that he would plant a tree.

  2. ‘To those who tell you to “get over it, we all have bad times” or “it’s been months now, surely you’re not still weeping”’

    We discussed this very thing last week in the Healing Through Meditation class I’m taking. It led to a rather deep discussion of our culture’s inability to accept grief, how our capacity to slow down to really experience what we’re feeling in any given moment is quite limited, how it is a healthy choice to allow ourselves to feel — to really feel in the fibre of the body — whatever that may be. It was a really good conversation for me because sometimes I wonder how it is possible that after 40+ years I still grieve the loss of Grandma Wagner.

    I love your courage, Betty Jane. You are a wise woman in my life. xoxo

  3. What I’m learning, Bernadette, or at least beginning to understand is that unresolved grief never goes away. And you’re quite right, not only does our culture not teach us how accept grief and the necessity to feel it both emotionally and physically, death is simply not discussed in good company. When someone asks me “How are you?” which is really just a way saying hello, I’ve become brave enough to actually tell them how I am. The anticipated answer is “Fine. I’m fine.” Sometimes I just say, “Not so great these days, but getting better.” And if the question comes from someone I trust, I tell them how I am/have been .

    • I really do wish you lived around the corner, or even just across town…

      You are doing such important work right now! If there’s any way I can support you from this distance, please let me know.

      Hugs and love, my friend, hugs and love!

      • Hugs and love back to you, Bernie. Yes, this is important work, painful though it’s been. I’m registered for a Grief Resolution program in January. All part of the journey. Saw your Aunty Evelyn in church on Sunday. She said to tell you she’s behaving herself. That woman is a delight.

  4. The Cree say that grief takes four seasons to change your soul. We know it takes longer, but wait for your seasons. With much love, Vivian

  5. Vivian, I think the Cree wisdom is solid in that “the first year” after the loss of someone you love is certainly the most difficult. On very special day we are so aware of the empty chair. Wounds do heal, but some scars are deep and ragged. I like to think, though, that the scars eventually become more a r eminder of love shared than of love lost. Thank you for your wise words.

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