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A grieving heart

Grief is that slice of life that takes us beyond the boundaries of our mind and makes us see life anew again. It is possible that when life is the way we like it, life is far, far too small to do what life is really meant to do.

Grief grows us up. When we come to understand that whatever we have we can lose, we begin, first, to hold everything lightly, and second, we learn to squeeze happiness dry.

The little losses of life prepare us to survive the great ones. We find out little by little as we go through one small change after another that it is possible after loss—no matter how initially bottomless the pit—to laugh again, to love again, to begin again. Practice savoring your little losses. They may be what save you in the end.

To tell a person in grief not to grieve may be the unkindest cut of all. It denies them the right to reevaluate their lives, to treasure their past, and to be accompanied through their new fears. Because we are not prepared to deal with the reality of loss, we want no one else to face it either.

Grief is a process of many stages and no guaranteed cutoff points. When something happens that in our minds should not have happened—a child dies, a group betrays us, a loved one leaves—there is no charting the time it will take to recover. There is only the sure knowledge that we can recover if for no other reason than that so many have.

Once we realize that everything we touch is in the act of disappearing, we shall touch it more intensely. The very thought of grief prepares us to live well.

—from Aspects of the Heart by Joan Chittister (Twenty-Third Publications)