Everything Is Meaningless
A few days ago, I lost another beloved human in my family. It is astounding how easily our loved ones slip away and we feel so helpless. This first excerpt was written in the days prior to my grandfather’s passing, and even a month later, I’m struggling to comprehend that he is gone. I am not alone in having a genuine desire to pickup the phone and call – there is a true lack of remembrance that it is no longer an option.
So wherever you are in the process, may these words and practice bring a small comfort.
An excerpt from my upcoming book, “Restorative Grief.”
Release scheduled for 2021.
“And the hits just keep on coming.”Lt. Daniel Kaffee, A Few Good Men
What’s the point? If all our hard work, gathered wisdom, and effort fall flat in the face of disaster, how can we continue to try? Why bother healing when it just keeps getting worse?
These are common questions each time I face a new loss or trauma. Sometimes I just laugh and say, “What next?” As I write these words, I am living through both a pandemic and a natural disaster, combined with losing my own job and the knowledge that my grandfather is moving into hospice. These unending hits lead to a hollow feeling of shock. The sort of disbelief that steals your breath and makes breathing feel futile all at once. Shock and denial would have us wait with bated breath for someone to tell us we misunderstood. The loss is not real; the person is not gone.
I laid in bed sobbing after I hung up the phone. She was so sorrowful and overwhelmed, and for her sake, I allowed her big emotions to take up all the space.
But the moment I hung up, the cork released, and I flooded the room with wailing of my own.
In these moments, there is nothing worth pursuing more than the next breath. There are no resolutions, no answers. But without breath, we perish. In the highest moments of tension, we tend to hold our breath. That call was expected years earlier. But the reality of my impending loss left me shocked that even when things seemed terrible, they really could get worse.
Ecclesiastes 4: 2 – 3
“So I concluded that the dead are better off than the living.
But most fortunate of all are those who are not yet born. For they have not seen all the evil that is done under the sun.”
Sometimes the pain of loss leads us to rationalize how simple death must feel. The complexity of living becomes convoluted when grief enters, making even the simplest tasks seem impossible. Anxiety is the opposite of hope; and in this day, you deserve to maintain at least one small connection to hope.
Practice your breath. Really practice. Try different methods of breathing; both in and out of your nose, alternating nostrils. In your nose and out your mouth. Breathe in deeply, and then like a lion, open your mouth wide and let your tongue hang out, growling on the exhale. Allow yourself to restore attention to the very involuntary habit of breathing. In moments of panic, shallow breathing increases our anxiety to the point of helplessness. Reclaim your breath as often as you can; there is nothing more to work toward today.