I receive mail outs every month or so from the Bereavement Services arm of Hospice of West Tennessee. The latest one was titled: Getting Through The Annual Reminders of Your Loss (by Carol Luebereing), and it contained a prayer at the end. I would like to share this part as I just read it yesterday, and it seemed to resonate with the dilemma I face—learning to let go. Some of you may have read the "Holes" blog which I wrote one day (this week) and deleted the next because it was just too depressing for me. I found the prayer fascinating because it reveals just how similar the grief process must be for many of us – obviously, everyone experiences grief in their own way…but clearly there are commonalities and these must often unfold along the same basic time-line. What follows is an excerpt from this handout that is scheduled to be delivered as the first anniversary of the death approaches. Although not all of it accurately reflects my journey or my feelings, much of it seems to hit the nail squarely on the head for me.
One of the most frightening things for a bereaved person is to conceive of "letting go" of the deceased. To many, this equates with "forgetting" the person who has died. A better way to understand is to shift the focus. Whereas the life and death of a loved one has been the primary and frontal image in the life of the bereaved, the deceased begins to move slowly to the side, to accompany the bereaved on the continuing journey of life instead of being the ultimate goal. The memory remains as long as there is life, but it is no longer the reason for that life. One learns to move forward, taking memories along as companions.
This prayer is not designed to be said once and then put aside, for letting go, does not happen in a single instant. Like grief, it is a process. The prayer is meant to assist in the changing of the focus.
Your death has left a gaping hole in my life and heart, producing an emptiness I know will never be filled. I miss your voice, the sound of your laughter, those funny endearing things you did, those moments when I was infuriated at you. I miss the dreams I had for and with you. I miss the future we will never have and the past, which, no matter how long it may have been, will never be long enough.
I have wept for you as well as for myself. I have raged in anger at you, at God, at fate, at the world, at anyone and anything, which seemed to be an appropriate target. I have tried to understand why you are no longer with me, why I have to struggle through this world without you. Some people have reached out to help me, others have turned away, unable to bear the pain I carry. I do not ask them to share it with me only to listen as I talk and cry. I have waited in the darkness for some sign that you are in a better, safer place, and even when I may have received it, I could not help but question how it could be better if I am not there with you. And I have wanted to join you so often when the aloneness threatened to overwhelm me.
Through all of this turmoil and doubt, I have managed to come this far. I have not yet achieved my goal, but at least I can now recognize that I am on the road to recovery. I am not sure how I will go on without you; no matter how many other important people may be in my life, you have always held a special place, and it is hard to imagine you not with me.
Will you walk beside me now as friend, comrade, and loving companion? I cannot come to you at this time; I can only trust that we will be reunited in God's love and compassion. But my life must go on; it is time for me to begin to live my life for others and myself. Let us then agree to explore these new existences, these spheres of reality, knowing that we carry the other with us, not with chains, but with loving, open hands.
I know you will never leave my side, as I will never leave yours. Thank you for the wonderful, unique relationship we shared. When we meet again, I look forward to sharing these new experiences with you. I love you. I miss you. I will never forget you.