The calendar reads early February, and the days are getting longer. At this time of year, the daylight increases by 3 minutes each twenty-four hours; that comforts me, even though it was 10 degrees this morning.

That soft evening light that stretches over the river and trees by my house gives me a quiet settling, as if I was taking that first deep breath of a meditation.

Grief is strange, as you know. One minute you want to hold on to the past, dwelling on every detail of your lost loved one, and then as the different seasons approach, you wish they would speed up so that the time would pass and some of the acute pain would vanish.

But just like the tulips that need the cold of winter, we need hibernation to work everything out. You can’t jump ahead into the future, putting distance between you and your loss.

When the winter passes, we need to be ready to start anew with a lighter, wiser, well-traveled heart.

The Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron talks about not having hope. Hope is in the future and she wants us to live in the now.

At first, I was taken aback. With loss on any level, hope becomes our oasis. We know what the past held for us. Why not hope for a better guture?

But this is the thing that Chodron says: We can’t drift away from the now. Do not get trapped in the mourning, of what it was like before, and what it will be like in the future.

Now is the time to say, “This is what happened to me. It was a tragedy. It wasn’t fair. We had a good life, a planned life.” But loss is inevitable. And it will be felt now.

Rest in the fact that spring is slowly on its way, the silence of winter and your hurt will see a crack of light emerge with the first note of the song bird. Stick your foot in there and wedge it a little more open each day.

Vicky Bates 2011

Vicky Bates

Vicky Bates

After 18 years of marriage and career, we decided to adopt two babies. My oldest had many health issues which after 10 years led to a fatal anaphylactic shock. I believe that my spiritual beliefs helped me understand that the tragedies we face challenge us to confront our pain and slowly work through it. That is what I did through helping with hospice and watching the process of transition for the dying and seeing that even in the hardest times the gentle kindness of humor is a necessary tool.

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