In this second chapter of my “capture” of the learning from my hospice clients, lost friends and family I am truly hurting. As I reread it for the first time after 12 years I am tempted to amend it. The vulnerability is remembered and real. But I will let it stand, as written…perhaps as a presence for those smashed to bits struggling to find air. The picture is of my friend, Nancy, who still walks with me in so many ways. At the time I somehow knew she was a gift and this has only grown in strength over the years
The Circle of Surrender
Life and death mostly come around as a circle. It is much beyond my capacity to comprehend. I am convinced that purposes or “making sense” is not what it is about so much as is courage – the place of heart. I can’t make sense of suffering, pain, or anguish. It is not to understand so much as to discover what stands under … what the foundation is. For me this is a circling around that might be named as surrendering. To me surrender is not giving in or giving up. It is not submitting or admitting defeat. It is letting go.
Can you let it go?
Will you let it go?
Trusting or reaching to know one’s foundation or place of heart is crucial to soul work. This perspective is passionate, vibrant, confounding, gritty and incredibly still. I often get in my own way and have to clear the clutter – usually by noticing and naming the incongruence. This is fundamentally the honesty that they have taught. I am compelled to apply this learning despite all that gets in the way. It is a way of honoring the lives and weaving the stories creatively into a path of being.
The enormity of sadness weighs heavily on my heart now. The ache is increasingly about the gaps in my own life. Over the years I have sacrificed time with those I love. I allowed the exhaustion of hospice days and nights to erase my interest in daily small talk and it left me unable to maintain friendships. More critically I shut down when tragic losses in my own life allowed no room to breathe. Aloneness and the sanctuary of silence resulted. It kept me functioning for awhile. Even as I experienced acute grief deeply in order to continue walking with hospice clients, these losses and the depth of their impacts on my understanding of myself and my life accumulated. I know my heart froze. Now, as it thaws, I feel like damaged goods with no one to blame but myself. All I can probably do is ask for understanding of those I love and wrestle with the difficult journey toward forgiving myself. More tears for disrupted relationships and lost time are coming. I hold a deep longing to belong.
I know I can go with dying people to places and experiences where most can’t go. I am very good at creating safety by joining with people in this crossing. The difficulty increasingly has been the point at which it is time for me to return and them to go on. I have come to an awareness that I am tired of the need to return. I want to go with them. I can assume form and bodily symptom. My love for my family keeps me coming back but my will to live is very fragile. I need to practice my new learning of how to release the souls that attach with a strangling grief and to ground my own body.
Perhaps as I let go more and more of my own tears and make amends to those I have neglected or pushed away I will find some peace of mind and a strengthened will to live. I hope so. I want to believe a renewed playfulness is not too far distant.