When a loved one walks out of our lives, or a beloved parent, child or friend dies, the pain is so overwhelming that it is impossible to meditate. Nor should we attempt it. We have to live with the pain, endure it, talk aloud to ourselves, go for a long walks, weeping all the while, and talking also to the loved one who has gone. Which is worse? A loved one who walks away from our relationship, or one who dies? There is no comparison. In each case something in us also dies. All we can do, especially if we want to avoid the pitfall of self-pity, is to endure the pain, talk about it, and slowly, slowly, work our way through it. There are no easy answers and the journey is different for each of us. It also takes time. The important thing always to remember is the good things we enjoyed with the person who has gone, and what we have learned from them. Then, slowly, we can begin to move on and it becomes possible once again to sit in silent meditation, drawing from the deep well of healing within each one of us.
When Hywel Jones, my partner of 54 years, was dying of a brain tumour and came home for the last two weeks of his life, I would silently say Hail Mary’s for him, knowing that the eternal Mother was holding him, as well as his own angel. There was pain in realising that I would no longer be able to kiss those lips or embrace him, but I would sit in deep silence alongside him, knowing that all was well.
Where did this acceptance come from? I recall a friend writing to me about the death of her husband: ‘Oh, how I wish I had your faith. When you lose the one you love, the rest of your life is like a journey on a long road where you might be ambushed at any time, around any corner, as in the old days of highwaymen. Now it is tears that come from nowhere and you have to pick yourself up again and smile, and drive on to the end.’
We each have to learn how to navigate our way through waters so deep and difficult that many drown or merely skim across the surface. For every individual the journey through bereavement will vary.