Updated: Jun 14
As J.R.R. Tolkien wisely wrote in The Return of the King, “I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”
How can one master grief? What is the most significant loss in life? How to calm a heart chamber that’s flooded with loss and pain?
Every single one of us will lose someone we can’t live without, being death or abandonment: a parent, a child, a friend, or the love of our lives. Our hearts will be broken, we will feel like we don’t want to continue living, and we might never get over it. All we want is for that person to come back and stay. We want to hear their voice, see their smile, hold them tight, and never let them go.
Whether we describe grief, the loss of a loved one, or the goodbye of someone that left us, the final decision of a relationship that ended in death, or you alone, depends on us. Grief can destroy or guide us. We decide if the absence of someone can spread over everything taking the floor from under our feet, or if it makes us feel alive and human, grateful to feel such magnanimous love.
Healing takes time. It’s exhausting and draining. Some days we are busy enough with life and distracted with other things that things seem ‘better.’ On other days we miss the person louder, and it feels like the whole world seems empty. It’s not a sign of weakness or a lack of faith. It’s only a passage but should not be a place to stay. We must understand how lucky we were to have known their love with wonder, not lastly damnation. Our broken heart feels like it will never be sealed back up, but that means that love will live forever in it. We don’t have to process it all at once.
If you lost someone to cancer as I have, cancer is just a word, not a sentence. Even if you lost the love of your life because of life’s bumps and misfortunes, as I also have, the brokenness helps us keep our souls thirsty to find that enlightenment again.
Recently I broke a couple of ribs. On the outside, I look fine, but it hurts with every breath, exactly like grief. Losing the one we love, the one that was our greatest blessing and comfort feels like the end. It feels like nothing is here for death to take away. But as the pain calms down, I can see how it can become an ally in our journey of compassion. It should not harden our hearts but open them. We must learn how to survive and find purpose, even in chaos. Moving on doesn’t need to mean letting go. Even if they took our joy and happiness with them, we must learn not to live without them but live with the love they left behind. It’s eye-opening how our brokenness can see those who feel the same and need some comfort far ahead.
Nothing or no one can take away our memories. Death is not the opposite of life but part of it. Breaking a relationship is not the end but a pause in the journey of two beings. Time doesn’t heal all wounds unless they are finite, and grief is not if love truly existed. Consequently, healing doesn’t look magical, pretty or have an end. For the peace of our humanity, we can be there for ourselves with no judgment.
When we love so powerfully and sincerely, it’s impossible not to be scarred forever. It becomes part of us and who we are. We can learn to see it with gratitude: if we couldn’t be together all the time, at least we created a feeling that will always be part of us. We never forget. What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose. It shouldn’t be an anchor nor a sail to take us ahead, but a guiding light to show us the way.
It’s okay if the only thing we can do some days is breathe. We cannot fix everything. Grief is like trauma. We can’t get over it or move on from it. We only carry them forward and make space for them, thriving in spite of it. We can rebuild ourselves and find semi-wholeness, but we will never be the same again. We shouldn’t be the same, or we wouldn’t want to be, anyway. That’s what defines our ability to learn the lesson.
In the end, grief is just love. Love that we want to give but cannot, or a terrible reminder of the love we didn’t provide, the time we didn’t have, the mistakes we let crush our togetherness, and the forgiveness that never comes. To not kill the privilege of having learned to love inside our hearts, we must let love prevail. We cannot even start healing until we allow ourselves to feel that loss. Then, we can go home to God and accept only He can unbreak us. Otherwise, there is a limit to the grieving that the human heart can do, and no more will can be absorbed. But that, my friend, can turn into another cancer and become a vicious cycle.
Even our most profound losses are survivable if we can see the light of what to do with that loss. Although it is impossible to transform it into a joyous time in our lives, it can become a power that pushes us forward. Unheard, unseen, but always missed, very near, and dear. No footprint is too small when it imprints in our souls.
A broken heart surrendered for too long can birth anxiety, anger, resentment, and blame, making our armor harder and filled with bitterness. Most days, all that unspent love gathers in the corners of our eyes, the lump in the throat, and the hollow part of our chests. It can dry one’s joy of living quickly. We know grief is love with no place to go. Yet, in the very center of it all, there is a tenderness of genuine sadness. When at the bottom of our despair, we forget pride and are not ashamed of our tears. It’s the courage to suffer and to feel life without worrying about how long it lasted but how good it was.
May we stop thinking we will always have time because it’s not our power to control it. But if the time comes and we lose those we love, may we realize they never truly leave us. Death cannot touch love. Separation doesn’t last forever if there is true love. We are only in different rooms. Most of all, God allows us to keep having our heart broken repeatedly until it opens. It’s only in the darkness we can find the light.
We may not hear their voices, but our heart has daily conversations with their souls.