Longing for Normal
Recently, I was reading a book about longing, and it stirred up a lot of feelings. What does longing mean to you? At this time of year when we are headed straight for the holiday season, there is so much I long for. I long to see my mom and dad sitting at the table with us. I long for Mom’s amazing holiday food, cooking together, her laughter, her sharing time with my granddaughter. Mom, I wish you could see her, get hugs and kisses from my little angel.
Longing is a quiet sadness that we feel, when a sweet memory bubbles up to the surface. When I reflect on all we do from October until the new year, it is a busy time flooded with memories of those who have passed before us. Going to the Pumpkin Patch, Thanksgiving dinners, or traveling together to be with family on a holiday vacation.
Then there is buying the Christmas tree. We always did this in the evening, bundling up, drinking hot chocolate, walking through the tree lot, listening to holiday songs as we pick out a perfect tree. Our family tradition of getting it home and up was a feat in and of itself, we bought big trees, everyone had to participate just to get it through the front door.
Grief Grows into Longing
My time of grieving her took years. It has been over 12 years now, and my grief has turned into a longing. It’s a deep heartfelt longing to see her again.
Our grief processes can be so intense. When we think of the 5 stages of grief, it feels like we will never get through the unbearable sadness. Deep inside we know our lives will never be the same. People have always asked me how long will I feel this way? My stock answer is one day it will just feel a little lighter, and 6 months down the road a little lighter, until enough time has passed for you that you’re not crying every day, you’re finding some joy in life, perhaps doing more, smiling more.
What I love about longing is that even though there is sadness with it, we also find insight into one of life’s greatest mystery about death. Haven’t you heard the term love never dies? Longing keeps that a live. For example, when we go get our Christmas tree, every year I long to share Christmas with my mom again, I allow those memories to flourish in my heart.
Longing has a Sweetness
Bring it! Because even though I miss her so much, my heart is quietly smiling that I was so blessed to have a mom who LOVED the holidays. With grief it is a different feeling because it is more work than longing. We must walk through our grief, not around it. During the holidays longing for what used to be normal brings up memories that warm the heart. We talk about them at the Thanksgiving or Christmas table with fondness and laughter, music is playing in the background, we try to normalize our holidays with these memories.
As I have gotten older, I have continued to long for her. It is a quiet sadness that does not impinge on my life, but something I do walk around with. I bet if you walked up to an 80 -woman or man and you asked them to tell you about their mother, their face would light up! That’s longing. This is the difference; grief work is exactly that, work. We can grow from it, find gifts in it, as the beautiful poet Rumi says:
“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom”
We’re Not in Control
Your ally is longing, and perhaps your grief work has brought you the wisdom in that. It needs no reaction just an awareness that it has appeared. I witness people who are angry, especially if the death was sudden and we could not save them. We always want to save them; it is inherent to do this with those we love.
God’s in control at this point, letting go of the steering wheel is paramount. When we hold too tight, our hearts are closed, we become controlling but as we go through the grief work there are ways to begin healing; finding a group, working with a counsellor who (specializes in grief is very important), nature is always helpful for clearing the mind and grounding, breath work especially when paired with yoga is powerful for grief as well.
Longing for Normal Memories
As I write this article Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata plays quietly, it brings the most beautiful vision of mom sitting on the piano bench in the living room. For a moment I am there with her, I can feel her, I immerse myself in that longing.
No drama, just a sweet quiet memory that I can allow to linger in my heart. I am so grateful for it and her. My heart knows that someday there will be no more longing. Once you have moved passed your grief allow longing to be where it needs to be, embrace it, and let it make a home in your heart. Longing will keep that fire going in your heart until you are reunited with your loved ones once again. I do believe you will see your loved one someday, even though I have never been to heaven I have been close to it, and I long to be there when my time comes. I long to see my parents, my other family members who have passed including my sweet furry babies.
Wishing you peace on your journey.
Read more by Nina: https://www.opentohope.com/the-breath-of-life-is-a-touch-from-heaven/