With courage she shared in the group. It was people gathered to grieve and discover new life. She was there partly because she had lost her son. He died young. We were discussing how one gets beyond the pain and agony. She said that she had identified her feelings as despair. Others nodded. Unrelenting sadness often hardens into despair.
She shared with us that what had helped her was finally coming to accept that this would always be part of who she now is. When she quite fighting despair and accepted it as a permanent part of her new self, she said that it was easier to live with it.
One of the normal ways of trying to deal with pain, sadness, despair, is to try to excise it. We try to get around it or over it. We don't like how it feels. It is a thorn in the flesh.
But, the poignant confession of our friend in the retreat points to a way to deal with that inescapable pain. She realized that it would not go away. It was too attached to her love for her deceased son. It was part of him. So, she accepted it as part of her. And rather than tear it away, she accepted it and began weaving it into the tapestry of her becoming life.
Loss tears a hole in the sense of who we are and how we know ourselves. We take the tattered threads of the rip in the fabric of our soul, seek to discover the new threads that the loss has given us to weave with, and then busy ourselves with the new identity that we might become. With trembling fingers, exhausted by trying to hold ourselves together, we tenderly take our pain, our sadness, our despair, and begin weaving our life together.
The tapestry will never be the same. We become new. And that which was and that which is gone becomes forever woven into the fabric of our lives.