When my heart broke my world shattered. What was once important to me no longer mattered. I questioned everything.

Benjamin World upside downI no longer lived by the world’s standards. Everything in my life was re-valued under a different paradigm, a more refined microscope. I asked why and assumed nothing. Idle conversations needed depth after death. Tasks I assumed were necessary all of a sudden became unnecessary.

As I looked into the faces of the people in my life and in my world, they changed shapes. Their dimensions either had depth or they faded from view.

The world said I’d changed. I wasn’t the same. Everything changed. And I was never to be the same. I no longer lived in trivial pursuit or masqueraded in meaningless costumes to fit into a world that was upside down. I had stepped into the expanse and into a world that was right side up.

I no longer filled my days with stuff. I emptied my days with stillness. Every experience was questioned as to whether it gave meaning or drained me in its meaninglessness. Does this replenish or diminish me? Does what I’m doing really matter?

There is a lot that really matters in my Afterloss. I did not walk into meaningless when they died. I ventured into the greatest meaning of all – the quest for the meaning of life in the midst of life and death. What dies? What lives? What loves?

The world tells me I must do this or that. Spectators to my sorrow fear the shattering of their worlds. I looked at their house of cards and said I don’t want to play anymore. Your world is not my world.

They would say you need to do something. I would respond doing nothing is something. I cannot live by your standards, your rules, your worlds. I must follow wherever the Afterloss leads. I must go to those places and dig deep. I must mine for meaning in the deep recesses of my sorrow. I will return, but for now I am on an expedition of great importance. I must find me, what rests within me, what is left of me and what gives meaning to me.

Stillness, the cultivation of stillness as it interplays with my sorrow, was what mattered. Forced labor was a world turned upside down. My labor of love – grieving, missing, questioning, searching, being, loving…was my world turned right side up.

After Matt died and they were all gone, I moved to Mendocino. I had spread their ashes in the same ocean, but many miles south. I sat by their burial waters every day in the fog, in the sun, in the rain, in the tears.

The migration of whales was a bi-yearly occurrence. They would pass by the coast on the way from Alaska to Mexico and then return. One day I saw over a hundred whales saunter by. To the world I was doing nothing, but to me I was doing everything that mattered.

Matt listened to a tape of humpback whales every night. We would read a book, kiss goodnight and he would put his headphones on. One night I asked him, “Have you figured out what they’re saying?” His deadpan response was, “Not yet.”

To the world, they were whales on their annual migration. To me, these majestic creatures were every night I had and had no longer. What I was sitting next to and leaning into was my deepest sorrow. I was doing what mattered.

The upside down world says fight it, resist it, get over it. My right side up world says let go into it, feel it, embrace it, go deep within it. Hurt heals and healing hurts. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to just be. It’s okay to sit and watch whales go by. It’s okay to not be okay.

My world has been forever changed and I am forever grateful. I have come from the shattering meaninglessness of my sorrow into meaning in every moment. In my embracing of their precious lives I have been graced to love. I have relearned to live and to love.

I know what gives me meaning and I live an uncompromised life. I don’t care what the world says is important. I know what is important to me. I have been loved and I choose to love. I have been given so much, and I choose to give in return.

My sorrow has reshaped everything. As I put my shattered life back together I realized that I am the architect of what matters, not the world. I am the one who lives my life, not them. I am the one that will always love the ones I once held everyday and I will hold them for the rest of my life. And I will hold love in what really matters…no matter what.


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