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Pain can become compassion and healing

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I haven’t listened yet, but your thread title kinda reminds me of a Mary Oliver poem. And, since you really liked the last one I shared, I will share this one also:


The Uses of Sorrow 

(in my sleep I dreamed this poem)


Someone I loved once gave me

a box full of darkness.


It took me years to understand

that this, too, was a gift.

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Thank you Bunny, that poem lead to this post on facebook today.


Forgive this post, it is going to ramble, perhaps be a little incoherent, and talk about the death of Christine. It has a non-neglible chance of being misinterpreted. I do not normally articulate what I am thinking in depth, but I feel like trying today. So friends, family and coworkers (yikes) here you go.


This February is the second time our wedding anniversary and her birthday arrive without her.  Because of this, and because in the fourteen months since I found Christine dead, the black hole that howls in my chest and eats joy has begun scarring over, I am starting to examine who I now am and what I now want in a life where she is absent.


We thought we knew where our lives were going. The boys were poised to leave the house and we would travel more. She would continue to paint part time I would continue to work. We would worry about finances and how we could pay for college. We would watch our sons graduate. We would watch them get married. We would meet our grandchildren. We would grow old together. Much of this has not happened and now never will, and those things that have happened or will yet happen I will have to experience without her. Knowing that Christine is in a place of perfect joy mitigates my sorrow in some slight way but not completely.


But recently, in part thanks to a poem quoted above, I have realized that I have been given a gift. It is a dark and horrible gift but it is still a gift. I was living a life where I did not have to examine who I was or what I wanted, or what I did in this world because I was happy and content. Christine’s death has forced me to examine myself and my life and make conscious choices about what I want rather than just drift.


Some wisdom written by a fellow widower comes to mind “You know how you survive losing your partner? You don’t. You have to let go of who you were, of who you were going to become. You will always hold onto the love, but you have to let go of almost everything else.” The sorrow, the grief, and the need to let go of who you were and rebuild yourself is the gift. It is a chance to become more than you were. It is God testing and refining you in the crucible.


"For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver." -Psalm 66:10


You do not have to wait for a tragedy to happen to learn this. At any time you can stop, examine you life, and chose to change its direction. So examine your life today, find a small thing you do not like and work towards changing it. Tomorrow chose another small thing and change it. Change, by change, brick by brick, build a new life for yourself one that brings you and the people around you, and the people around them joy and peace.


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When I first realized that my grief (in many ways but certainly not all) made me into a better person, I was kinda angry. It seemed such a very mean way to obtain growth. I resented it, but could never deny its truth once discovered. I am still very much a work in progress, of course, and each year I feel I become more open to the lessons Life and Grief continue to teach me.


I remember the first time I read that poem, either here or on the ywbb board I’m not sure; it struck such a very deep chord in me, I’m glad it has for you also. One of the gifts of grief, for me, has been a return to reading / appreciating poetry.

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