Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person who doesn’t like the idea of a “Celebration of Life” after a death or loss. I need to grieve, mourn and lament what I lost…otherwise my heart and spirit doesn’t heal.
I’d rather sit shiva like the Jews do. Mourners stay in the house for seven days, sit on low stools, and grieve their loss. The idea is to walk through the valley of the shadow of death and come out the other side. It’s a transition, a symbol of a life ending and an unfamiliar season beginning.
Sitting shiva gives mourners time and space to sink into their pain. It allows them to weep, pray, confront and find comfort in Yahweh, and — yes! — even celebrate the life of their lost loved one.
Imagine “sitting shiva” for a loss you experienced. I’m not just talking about death. I’m talking about those little losses that accumulate and build up over time. Health issues, family problems, job losses, terrible injustices and pain in the world, heartaches and disappointments that seem too little to mention…those are real losses that cause deep pain.
Unprocessed pain is like a beach ball at a swimming pool. Have you ever tried to hold a beach ball under water? It takes a ton of energy and effort to keep it under. Pushing down that beach ball of pain takes more energy than letting it loose.
It’s OK that you’re not OK
“Spiritual practices in any tradition, including mindfulness in many forms, are meant to help you live what is yours to live, not to make you rise above it,” writes Megan Devine in It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand.
“These tools are meant to help you feel companioned inside your grief. They’re meant to give you a tiny bit of breathing room inside what is wholly unbearable. That’s not at all the same thing as making your pain go away.”
It hurts to lose what we love. It hurts to feel the pain of loss and grief.
It hurts to be human.
“The way to get through the pain of being human is not to deny it, but to experience it,” writes Megan. “To let it be, without stopping it up or holding it back…You allow pain because it’s easier to allow than to resist. Because being with what is is kinder, softer, gentler, and easier to bear — even when it rips you apart.”
The holidays are approaching. Maybe you’re dreading them because of a loss, divorce, breakup or difficult diagnosis. Maybe it’s your first Christmas without your daughter, husband, or beloved pet. Maybe you lost your best friend, or still can’t get pregnant after years of trying. Maybe you’re still single, or still sad about something that happened a long time ago.
Can you imagine a few ways to ease the pain of loss, the ache of being human, the longing to go home?
Imagine this…and be a little more OK…
I’m already imagining my 50th birthday next March. It won’t be a party (though perhaps I should consider a Celebration of Life 🙂 ). I’m planning something even bigger than a birthday party and better than a birthday present: I’m imagining the second half of my life.
And it starts with a trip to Nepal in January. When I imagine myself trekking around the Himalayas, eating Momos (Tibetan dumplings) and Cheser Mog (rice with melted Yak butter), seeing God’s world and people, leaning on the Holy Spirit to guide my steps, catching glimpses of Jesus in people’s faces, writing about what I’m seeing and learning and experiencing…I am more than OK. I am deep, whole, and alive.
What are you imagining? What helps you feel OK, or even more than OK? Maybe you have to meet your pain first. Maybe you have to sit shiva for awhile, to release that beach ball you’ve been holding under for so long. Maybe you and God have some talking to do.
Remember that sitting shiva — or just feeling the pain of being human — doesn’t mean you can’t use your imagination. On the contrary! Saying goodbye to what you had or hoped for involves using your imagination to let go, lean on God, and allow the Spirit to heal your heart.
The Holy One will give you the desires of your heart…but first you have to use your imagination.
With His love,
New “Blossom Tips”
What is Lectio Divina? Meeting God in Scripture – How do you experience God’s presence or hear His voice in Scripture? What is lectio divina, and how do you practice this type of prayer in a group or by yourself? These five steps of lectio divina are clear and simple. They’ll help you hear the Holy Spirit, meet God in Scripture, and discern the presence of Jesus Christ in your life.
Comfort and Hope as You Grieve Your Husband’s Death – I recently picked up a book called It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand by a widow who witnessed the accidental drowning of her young, fit husband. “Grief for my husband” may have been the reason Megan Devine wrote her book and started the Refuge in Grief website, but her insights and practical tips for coping with grief will help anyone coping with loss.
3 Ways to Cope With an “On Again Off Again” Relationship – How do you cope with an “on again off again” love relationship that seems more off than on? Even more important: how do you find peace, stability and joy in a relationship that is filled with uncertainty and confusion? The world is unstable and confused enough! The last thing we need are “on again, off again” love relationships.
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