Blog: The Psychotherapist’s Corner

 

I have not published on this Blog for a while…I have started again leading off with some personal comments.

 Mourning and Openness

While one never gets over a loss…. I found that when my wife of forty-seven years died of ovarian cancer I was, for the first two years after, in a different place…I both knew that she had died and simultaneously didn’t know. I survived the first year by writing poems to her…which I called Talking to Julia…. that helped me get over the immediacy of her passing…. but one, as mentioned, never gets over it…one’s love just grows deeper. After her death, I have had a profoundly different experience of what it means to be alive….and that experience is a gift. Each person works out the mourning process as best they can …but it is not something to be resolved, as if it is a developmental stage…rather in its deepest sense, it is a transformation.

Outside of my comments at her memorial service and the poetry I wrote the first year after her passing, I have not written about my loss and what it has given me. Not that I have not thought of our life together and all that she brought to me and to our children. I have, continually – continually, since to say that I thought of her every day would be to divide my thinking.  By continually I mean that the seeming passage of time does not hold sway in one’s being; somehow one steps outside the divisions of past/present/future to live in a kind of ever present place.

Sometime, after my tears had lessened, I began to experience something that I had glimpsed intellectually but that had made little impact on my day-to-day experiences. Namely, to experience that I was not so much personally alive, as that life was living through me – I was, to put it simply, lived by life more than personally owning it.  In our capitalistic culture, we tend to experience life and life experiences on a consumer level …that is, “I” am alive, for example. But what I have experienced was not just the obvious fact that I was alive but simply, if one can put it that way, that life is living through me rather than life is something that I own or possess. We are owned, so to speak, by life, much more than it’s something we possess. And I believe that gives us great freedom to create ourselves, which, we know, is an ongoing possibility .

Mourning need not be just a time of grief; it can also open up a deeper understanding of ourselves, a fuller appreciation of how deeply we need each other as well as the possibility of knowing, on a very personal level, the reality what life is. I am reminder of the ancient Hindu writings – the Upanishads – which speak of the oneness of everything and everyone and invite us ponder that truth as we live our everyday lives.