I have no clue.

What does it mean for me to heal from the death of a loved one? I have my experience.

I know what it means to me, but everyone has their own experience. Everyone has their own understanding of what healing means to them. I do not presume to know what it means for another to find healing in loss, but I can share with you what I have experienced in the healing process; and it has been and will continue to be a process for me…for the rest of my life.

Healing to me is being able to live with my sorrow and loss. It doesn’t mean getting over my wife and children’s deaths. It means I have a new way of relating to the beauty of their lives every day for the rest of my life and a way to still express the sorrow of missing them.

Benjamin Perpetual HealingHealing is the reintegration of life after everything I have has been shattered. My experience with grief has been that a part of me is forever gone and a part of the one I love and lost is forever with me. Healing is the reshaping of my life in living in the beauty of what they have given me and the letting go of that part of me that has gone with them.

When Bryan, Lydia and Matt died I was given many precious gifts by each one, the greatest being love, but there were and continue to be so many gifts I continually receive. I will give an example of each life that has forever reshaped me and unfolds within me.

Bryan was the first to die. Eight and a half months of our life together still unfurls me. During his life I held him against my chest in his excruciating pain, rocking him, singing to him all the while clothing him with love. What I wanted was when the moment he died and entered a new way of being the love he experienced there was the love he knew here. I wanted him to have a seamless transition from love into love. I wanted him to look around and say, “I know this love. I felt it in my father’s arms as he rocked me.”

Benjamin Not sorrowI held his body as it grew cold. He was slipping away from me. This was the last day I would ever be able to hold him. But in those closing moments of death I felt the opening of life into the expanse. It was as if he waited to comfort me. His ancient presence held me just like I held him against my chest.

Bryan was the first to take me into the expanse of life beyond death. His gift of holding me that day beyond time and space gave me strength to hold Lydia and Matt in a different way. And to this day, I hold death differently due to being held by Bryan.

Lydia’s wisdom and strength was beyond my comprehension. She had a gentle peace born of deep sorrow. She was a stabilizing force and a mother above all else. She guarded her children like a lioness. She did everything she could to keep them alive.

And in the end she knew her final task, her ultimate meaning of being there for her remaining child, was not to be. She was to die before Matt. She shared with me that her greatest challenge was to let him go. The part of Lydia that is a part of me today is my deep desire to cultivate the art of letting go with wisdom and strength.

It is not so much what I need to let go of, but what I need to let go into. Bryan’s gift of experiencing the expanse is what I let go into. I honor Lydia’s presence by being present for her tender gift of letting go.

Matt left me the greatest missing part of me that I must carry through life. There is nothing that can compare to what I lost when I lost my ability to hold him. Matt taught me love. He gave me the gift of meaning. In all the anguish I endured while they lived in the shadow of death for so many years, and in all the missing parts of me that will be forever gone, Matt challenged my understanding and experience of meaning and meaninglessness.

In the depths of my despair I found no meaning. But deep in the darkness of my loss, Matt left me a gift. One day, when Matt was around 9, we were driving down the road just like in other day. He turned to me and said, “I know what the meaning of life is.” I said, “Oh yeah, what’s the meaning of life?” He nonchalantly replied, “The meaning of life is life itself.”

My search for meaning, my search for life, is founded to today in the lives of the ones I have loved and lost. My healing in the midst of loss is my perpetual reshaping and their unfolding, eternal gifts that will be forever a part of me.

I feel their presence around me often, but I feel their presence within me always.

Healing, for me, is a never ending unfolding of presence in the midst of my pain. Healing is my ability to hold joy and sorrow, emptiness and fullness, pain and pleasure, life and death and all point in between with love. I live with the loss they left me. That will never go away. I also live with the love they left me. And I will be forever in the healing process because I will be forever in love.



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