A few days ago, I was startled by a Grief Goblin who stopped me in my tracks, transported me across miles and years, and zapped me of all energy. Mind you, I’ve been engaged in grief work for years, and yet this goblin’s sneakiness startled me with its stubbornness. Goblin would not go away even though I’m certain it was aware of the mountain of work I had to do in such a short amount of time.
Given this go-to encounter with Goblin, I was grateful for the sacred space and time offered through the Spiritual Practice Zoom session’s that are compendium of my book, The Spirituality of Grief. This one-hour gathering on alternating Tuesday evenings from 7–8 p.m. CST provides a haven for those in raw or lingering grief.
Each session, we practice a spiritual discipline described in The Spirituality of Grief, we hold confidence, and we exchange measures of compassion and encouragement. All are welcome to join, just send me a message via the contact form.
As part of my introduction in the last Spiritual Practice Zoom, I shared the emotional weight of grief that had come to me with moving from one house to a new home. Closets, drawers, and even a chalk-painted door in our abode of 21 years was a gallimaufry of memories of Bob, my husband who died March 4, 2018. Grief Goblin made me aware that the everyday moments are where our most intimate memories hide. These words of grief writer Megan Devine came to mind:
Grief lives in the ever-day. From the outside, people might think it’s
the big dates that hurt most. The intimate rhythms of life are where you
might feel grief more strongly.
I believe Megan is divinely spot on. It’s the everyday moments I miss most with Bob, mostly at home. Being twogether. The process, therefore, digging into every nook and cranny of the life we shared, engaging in spiritual conversation with him about what to keep/what to toss, touching the objects he touched, and tracing his signature on love notes he had written is bittersweet at a record level I never anticipated.
All those tough questions I had after Bob died come flooding back:
New questions surface:
There are many memories and micro-moments of grief that will always be stored in my heart.
My move is an exciting one—downsizing to give me more freedom and flexibility. I am ready for this next chapter and all the new adventures that go along with it, but it’s bittersweet. Turning the page is more daunting than I thought. It’s the yin, the yang (and the stress) of moving. It’s a complicated concoction. However, I am allowing myself to feel, giving myself carte blanche to experience even the uncomfortable emotions, such as anger, guilt, and loneliness. Intellectually, I know these feelings of wistful nostalgia and melancholy are completely normal.
Standing in the hallway surrounded by half-filled boxes and packing tape (where the hell is that packing tape?), I realize that now it’s just a house. A lovely house, for sure, that Bob and I made into a home. A home for us to entertain hosts of friends. A home to watch robins' nest in our patio ceiling fan year after year. A home for resting after long days of ministry. A home for grandkids to practice crawling and later run bases in the backyard. A home to watch the Cubs finally win a World Series. A home to sing Alleluia’s each Easter when family would visit.
The house seems somehow smaller now because it was the grace-filled love that we shared and cherished that made it large. Perhaps that is what makes the downsizing so appealing and exciting. I’m looking forward to the freedom of fewer responsibilities, the flexibility of coming and going, and the meeting of new friends. The mixture of emotions both expands my heart with poignant gratitude and exhausts me. It’s a complicated concoction.
That’s why I am particularly grateful for the synchronicity of our focus on Chapter 3 this week--Why is Grief so Exhausting? There’s no denying I am exhausted, however, that’s not the reason for my gratitude. It’s the nautilus renewal spiritual practice I included. I’m also grateful for Grief Goblin who stands with me in this intense process and helps me open some of the dusty boxes of grief I’ve hidden away for too long. So many layers . . . so much to carry.
Find the instructions at the end of the chapter or request a version of it here.
As a home for its resident mollusk, the nautilus shell has always fascinated me. Its most distinctive feature is its coiled, spiral-shaped shell, divided into a series of chambers, each progressively larger. And the innovation I admire most is its ability to add new chambers as it grows, sealing off the older, smaller ones. No need to pack up and move.
The process is continuously creating new, intertwined chambers within the shell. No wonder it’s become the focus of a spiritual exercise. We can meditate on the expanding spirals and chambers that, like our homes, hold our secrets, dreams, desires, laughter and heartaches. This elegant, circular flow helps us envision our own unique growth path.
I am drawing a new nautilus with my radical relo, but I am giving myself the space I need to support my grief journey in new ways. I think about the events I want to host in my new home (when I come out of my shell, of course—and the people with whom I will share my joys and sorrows in the chambers of my heart behind the curvy, pink wall in Dallas.
Remember, the grieving process is as unique as a fingerprint, and there is no right or wrong way to go. Be patient with yourself and breathe. Give yourself the emotional, physical and spiritual room to heal and adjust to the change—whatever it brings.
What treasures have you found, or do you seek in your nautilus?