Finding meaning through loss & grief

As I leave my house for work in the morning, I often find myself greeted by the sight of a funeral hearse pulling out of the undertakers at the top of my street. As the long black vehicle slowly passes me I am drawn to reflect that I too will, one day, die and that my body will probably be carried away in a coffin like the one before me, leaving behind friends, family and loved ones. I also reflect that the hearse may be taking somebody’s grandmother, grandfather, father or mother, son or daughter, husband or wife, or friend. To be human and to engage with life means that we will suffer repeated losses, not just of people but, also security, innocence, connectedness. The more we fully partake of life the more we see that nothing can be held onto. When we really experience loss we also glimpse the value of something. It is interesting to note that the word grief, which etymologically is related to the word gravity, from the Latin gravis (“to bear or carry”). I feel the task that loss and grief asks of us is to acknowledge and value what has touched us. The loss of a loved one is very painful indeed, yet the grieving is in itself a celebration of the richness that life offers us. The poet Mary Oliver from her poem In Blackwater Woods capures this beautifully:

To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your own bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.