January 18, 2012 // Uncategorized

Pausing between the past and future

As this New Year approached I was delighted to receive an email from an old friend. Mel and I made up the long arms of a trio of women who had been friends for over a decade. Our friendships ran deep and intense from the very beginning as the three of us bonded over the shared grief we faced following the untimely deaths of our young husbands.

Extended and powerful visits and phone calls provided the emotional and spiritual support we each required as time and our grief journeys unfolded. As the deep pain of loss began to soften, we three began to share the common details of our lives. And our life-long friendships were forged.

“Can’t believe that New Years is just around the corner and we will be done with 2011. In some ways I want to move on and other ways I don’t want to let go,” wrote my friend. Though Mel’s words resonated with me, I felt a need to ask her to elaborate on her personal thoughts.

You see our tertiary musketeer, Denise, succumbed to leukemia in the early spring of 2011, after a long and valiant fight for life. Mel and I walked as closely with our brave but ailing friend as much as she would allow us, but we still regret being unable to spend more time with her.

“Okay, details lady, what is it you don’t want to let go of and what do you want to move on from?” I replied in my email.

Mel’s response stirred something in me and I began to mourn once more the loss of our dear friend and all she meant to me.

“I don’t want to let go of talking to Denise in 2011 and yet I know we move further from it in 2012,” she wrote. Her poignant words reminded me of something many of us who grieve a loss face — the pause between the past and the future.

That is the place on the sometimes baffling path of grief that is both frightening and hopeful. It is the time when we feel a shifting in our grief perspective toward hope and a future, but are still deeply embedded in our desire to retain what was lost.

It is a time when our weary hearts cry out for just one more moment with our loved one, while our logic reminds us that they are truly gone. The sweet memories of all that made up the details of the life we shared with our loved ones begin to fade into the recesses of our minds as they find their rightful place in our new existence following their death.

Many of us fear that our memories will not sustain us as time and our grief work call us to move forward. Some of us even fear that we will forget them altogether. But I have learned that we will never forget what our loved ones meant to us and what we shared with them. Those are the memories that become the foundation for new life and a hopeful future.

The pause between the past and the future that Mel and I have experienced may take some time to move through. But it can be done with gentle compassion and understanding support. So as Mel and I continue our grief work and share our hopes and fears, we will embrace the New Year and all it promises as best we can. We will cherish the memory of our third musketeer and hold tight to the enriching gift that our friendship was to us, as we move — hopeful — into all of the New Years to come.

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