Through our work with the foundation, Pat’s career, and in our own circle of friends and family, it feels like Pat, and I bear witness to loss more than the average person. This lends itself to a sad familiarity with death, but it never lessens the impact of each life that has been lost to us.
Recently, I have been lending support to two recently widowed ladies, one of which said something that really resonated with me this week. She asked me for a hug because she knows I just “get it.” She went on to say that “today is a heavy day, not a hollow one.”
I remember thinking, “Yes. That explains it perfectly.”
In the initial moments, hours, days, and months of grief, we are burdened with an overwhelming heavy weight of anguish. We cannot stand up straight, catch our breath or survive one moment without feeling the heavy pull downwards into despair. Yet, over time, that weight, that burden becomes somehow familiar and, dare I say it, even comforting because we know it so well.
When this occurs, the “hollow” feeling is left inside of us. Not a moment goes by in life that we don’t consciously remember our loss. However, we somehow learn to function with this open wound inside of each of us. We love those we physically have here with us, we smile, we even laugh a bit. All the while, still holding space inside for our precious one who has passed on.
This hollow wound becomes sacred to us because it is our constant companion and daily reminder of the precious gift we have been given. We are the parent or family member to a loved one who is gone too soon. What an agonizing honor it is to be their legacy and to keep their loving memory part of our daily lives.
If you have been on this grief journey for a while now, you have come to the realization that the “heavy” and “hollow” alternate within you. Sometimes you can foresee the transition about to occur due to the holidays or anniversaries. Sometimes, you are left gasping for air because, suddenly and unexpectedly, the “hollow” has yet again been filled with the “heavy” weight of grief.
For us, the holidays, even after nearly 18 years without our Joshua, bring to light all that we still have and all that we are missing. This juxtaposition in life is draining. Each ornament, each holiday card showing complete families, and each festive gathering remind us that our beloved one is no longer physically here. Without a doubt, the holidays are a time when we all know that the “hollow” will be “heavy” again. That is why they are so exhausting. No matter how long it has been since you have had the privilege of holding their hand or kissing their cheek, we dread the resurgence of “heavy” and we are left weary again.
All of us here thank you for sharing your precious ones with us. For being willing to open the inner wound again to let their light shine from you. We see your love and your agony, and we bear witness to your precious one’s beautiful and enduring light.