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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Understanding what the Heart already knows!

'When you are sorrowful look again into your heart and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.'  -- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet 

Look into your heart -- there resides love, it holds everything you hold dear, and with every heartbeat, we are reminded of the preciousness of life.  The heart holds so much, it sustains us in so many ways.  It pumps life-giving blood throughout our bodies, nourishing every inch; it allows us to feel and care, it leaps in our moments of joy, and breaks with each new sadness.  

Happy Easter!  It has been an amazing weekend, one filled with family and friends, and yes, beautiful memories of Rachel and everything she loved about this holiday.  My home was filled with laughter, loud conversations (at least 110 decibels, it's the Portuguese in us), and just the wonderfulness of being together.  If I had any doubt that Rachel would be present, that was quickly dispelled.  Rachel's name came up in many a conversation, and it became evident fairly early on, that she was part of the festivities.  

The first gentle reminder that Rachel was very much a part of the Easter celebration came right before the start of Mass on Sunday.  Those of us who help out in any ministry during the Mass generally stand near the doors greeting those who are entering the church.  Nothing out of the ordinary, and people look forward to the welcome and an opportunity to start the day off with a smile.  As I stood there with the other ministers, a friend came over, gave me a hug and asked if I was okay.  I said yes and then realized she had been reading my blog, and new that I was hurting, that I was really missing Rachel.  Through my smile, I could feel the tears threatening and I tried hard to fight them back and luckily my efforts resulted in keeping them in check.  

The experience, however, left me with a wonderful feeling.  I heard it said the other day, that when we are grieving we do not necessarily remember the words that people say to us in those moments, but rather, 'how they made us feel.'  Sunday was no exception, I felt cared for, I felt comforted, accepted for the person I am, even in my brokenness.  Even though it laid bare my inner turmoil and emotions, it also freed me to express them, letting me know that it was okay.  

Those of us who are grieving, regardless of the loss, often find it difficult to allow ourselves to express our feelings and emotions.  As a society, we often are told that we need to maintain composure, 'keep a stiff upper lip,' 'hold our head up,' and so on.  I am sure you all have heard these 'reassuring' words from some kindly soul who means well.  It's no wonder so many of us become 'basket cases,' we keeping shoving it all in, trying to keep a lid on it.  But eventually there is only so much a 'basket' can hold, now what! 

Luckily, you are able to find an outlet for those emotions and feelings.  For me, it is writing and sharing my story, for others, it is painting or other artistic venue, for some it is developing new interests and hobbies.  The key is to find ways to allow those emotions to be released in healthy, productive ways.  We are by no means pushing them aside, or trying to bury them in some mindless activity, we are freeing ourselves to experience them, to share them, and to acknowledge that we hurt, there is pain, and that we are after all human.   

Where there is love, there will also be pain.  Where we find acceptance, we may also know rejection.  Where we find comfort, we may also find distance.  The beauty is that we learn strength, courage and weakness.  No I'm not losing it --weakness, really!  I have learned that in allowing what others perceive to be weakness -tears, confusion and raw emotion- to be part of who I am, I have found true strength, the strength that comes from LOVE, that which has been our delight.  The measure of our nature is not in our height and stature, but the capacity to love, to nurture, to be what others' need us to be in their moments of need.  

There is a beautiful prayer, 'The Serenity Prayer' that I feel sums it all up: 

                          God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 
                                       the courage to change the things I can, 
                                                      and the wisdom to know the difference.

May we all experience a deep and honest serenity in our own lives, as we learn to accept ourselves as we are.  

And remember:  'We all mold another's dreams.  We all hold each other's fragile hopes in our hands.  We all touch others' hearts.'  --Author Unknown.

Blessings! and until we meet again.


  1. another beautiful post! i don't know if you experience the same thing but sometimes people are afraid to talk about my (our) loss for fear of opening the flood gates.. so i am so glad your daughter was the topic of conversation during Easter.. i know for me it feels good to know my dad is on their minds as well...

  2. Thank Ana Marie,

    It will be five years in September since Rachel's death and I still hear the hesitation in people's voices as they mention her name. What I have come to learn, is that it is not necessarily us they are truly worried about, it is their own feelings. They hope to shield us from our emotions, by blocking their own. What I found made it easier for people to talk about Rachel, was letting them know it was okay! That I was okay with it! They needed to hear it from my family and I that we did wish to talk about Rachel. All they needed was permission. There are however family members and friends who cannot or do not wish to talk about their loved one, and we need to acknowledge that as well.

    For example, my son would leave the room whenever Rachel's name was brought up. He has since become more open to talking about his sister, but it took some time. Be patient not only with yourself, but with others as well.

    I am very sure that your dad lives on not only in your heart and in your memories, but in how he touched the lives of others as well.

    Take care, Rose Mary