There is no norm just as there is no normal. Point A no longer goes to Point B. The only path I can go is mine. The pulse of an irregular beat of a broken heart guides the healing of my sorrow. Loss has no formulaic cure. Grief is not something to be cured. Grief is a sacred path unique to every heart that comes from the heart to the heart.

Benjamin July 11 didn't fitMy answers to questions have faded into questions with no answer. They told me I was not the same. Good. Life is not the same. How could I be the same?

After the last of my family died, the place I was working gave me three days off to grieve. Who came up with that policy? Why not four days? One day? Why three?

I had gone through thirteen years and three deaths. I was going to need more than three days. I understand the policy. They could have given me three years and it wouldn’t have been enough. These were compassionate people I worked with and I am deeply grateful for everything they did for me during that part of my journey. I understood. Three days is policy. Life goes on. Work goes on. I resigned due to my ability to “go on.”

I didn’t fit there. I didn’t fit anywhere. Initially, my grief didn’t fit life. My quest for healing began with the question, “Where now do I fit?” Out of that questions like, “Now that everything is gone, what is left?” And, “Who am I? How did I get here? Where do I go now when I don’t even think I can go on?” So many unanswered questions were scattered across the desolate terrain of my Afterloss.

So, I left with what was left. I moved from Texas back to California with the remains of my son’s belongings and the remains of me looking for where I belonged.

Trite sayings meant to comfort only compounded the complexity of my sorrow. People wanted to give me “helpful” suggestions, but they didn’t help. It wasn’t even what they said. It was more what I was simply unable to hear. I needed silence more sound, presence more than words.

I needed to find my own way. I need to ask my own questions. Find my own answers.

What I realized was the question is just as important as the answer. I also found that some questions are unanswerable. I needed to question the questions. I needed to sit with the unanswered.

In my search for answers I was looking for relief from the pain, healing from the hurt, somehow ending the relentless waves of sorrow pounding the jagged coastline that had become my life.

If I only knew why. Why? Why did I need to know why? Would that make it all right? Would it placate the pain and shed light on the deep shadows that blinded me in overwhelming anguish? Did it matter why?

At times during my early days of deep sorrow (five or six years), yes. The question “Why?” did matter. It fueled my emptiness. It pulled me out of bed and pushed me out the door. I went in search. I went in sorrow. I went in why.

Benjamin July 11 LostNo pre-packaged answer came neatly wrapped. Logic was senseless. I was desperately trying to live through the morning, make it the whole afternoon, sink into the night, only to find I would wake and try to live through the morning, make it the whole afternoon…day after night, night after day.

In the Afterloss, I navigate by pulse. It’s the beat of the heart that guides me. How can a broken, shattered heart, be my guide? I don’t know. All I know is in the stillness I feel the pulse of a heart bigger than mine. My sorrow synchronizes to its own rhythm and as I lean into the loss, into the void, there is the pulse of presence.

Love has a pulse. In the deepest, darkest, most devastating moments of my life, I have felt love’s pulse. When all was lost, I felt the pulsating presence of love.

Nothing has ever hurt me more than love. Nothing as ever healed me deeper than love. Nothing confuses me more or provides greater clarity. Love is the most paradoxical experience I’ve ever entered. I’ve wanted to push love away and grip it so tightly at the same time. I’ve cursed love and blessed love.

When I lost my beloved, I thought I had lost love. When I emptied into an empty world, I thought love had emptied, too. But deep in the void, at the very heart of the abyss, there was the pulse of presence. There was love.

I do not follow a drumbeat that dictates how, when and where to grief. I lean into the heartbeat that knows my heart. I go where that heart leads my heart. I hear its soft, still sound in my silence, in my sorrow. I follow the pulse of presence.

No one can tell me how to grief. I listen with great intent to how you grief. I want to know how you are able to wake in the morning, go through a day and sleep at night. I want to hear everything you have found on your path. But in the final analysis, it is my pillow I lie on. I awake to my loss. I live my day. And I have found I must follow the pulse of presence beating in the rhythm of a broken heart. My heart must follow its heart.


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