Grieving is the purest and most powerful expression of love I have experienced in my life. I’ve learned over the years that grieving is necessary for a healthy soul. I’ve also learned that one can begin the process of grieving before that which you love is actually gone.
My dad was recently diagnosed with Bulbar ALS, an auto immune disease that slowly kills motor neurons beginning in his neck and throat before targeting the rest of his body. Grieving began months ago when he could no longer speak to me on the phone. Grieving continued as I witnessed the challenges he has eating & swallowing. Yet the grief wasn’t alone – it was accompanied by love. Grief and love, sitting side by side in my heart – cuddled up, holding hands. After all you can’t grieve without loving, and you can’t love without inevitably grieving.
When we got his diagnosis, I flew across the country, my sister met me at the airport, and we drove to spend a week with my dad in Oregon. On this trip, my heart discovered a new degree of loving. I experienced love so vast, so enchanting, so intoxicating, I thought I might drown in the ecstasy of it. These moments of overwhelming love shared a similar intensity as the moments of overwhelming sorrow. Noticing this, how love and grief both filled my heart until it overflowed with feeling, gives me comfort. The intensity of my grief is a mirror to the intensity of my capacity to love. The beauty of this reflection is simple and it strengthens me.
My dad is still here, hopefully for at least a couple more years. He is still laughing and smiling, still spending time walking in the forest. He still tries to make bum deals when we play Monopoly, and he still loves his bulletproof coffee in the morning. His eyes sparkled the entire time my sister and I were with him. My eyes were sparkling too, shining out to the world the love I have for him.
And yet I know there will be times when I forget, when the grief feels dark and heavy, and I forget about the love that is sitting beside it. That’s why I am writing this, why I am starting this blog. It is a reminder to myself, and perhaps a source of solace to others who are experiencing loss. I give voice to my grief because I believe it is important to acknowledge the love and beauty beneath the heartbreak and sorrow.
I give voice to my grief because grief is where the love lies.