On the Confusing Cycles of Loss


The whole aftermath of my aunt’s death was a confusing and luminous journey. I was swimming in loss. There were waves of letting go, and of holding on. I rose, and sank; surfaced, and dove down. The trek through the love room seemed both holy, and hellish; ragged, and tender. It consumed everything. I wanted to wake up, but I also wanted to sink deeper into dreams, especially if they gave me something of my aunt.

In a way, I was more in touch with the Great Mystery of Being than ever in my life. It was both stunning, and not surprising at all.

Now, I understand that the dizzying shift between wanting to be free, and hoping the love room would never end, was a wrenching and completely natural process. Even after 6 years of my aunt’s death, I’m still not entirely sure that I want to be free.

Here are a couple of letters from the most confusing times –


Getting up from my morning ‘sit’ to write and be quiet, I pick up your shawl to straighten it, and instead suddenly press it to my face, wrap myself up in you.

I am a prisoner of love and grief. Will I never be free? I don’t want to be free! Oh, how long will I be in this impossible, in-between place? No wonder I never remarried! If losing you, my aunt, is so hard, how would I have survived losing a soulmate? Or—maybe that was you, after all: the sister of my soul? And what can I do, but wait for this to play out as it will?


First official day of spring! Along with all the earthy things that are thawing and rising up these days, I seem to be coming out of a hole—the one you left. Maybe it’s just the warmer weather, or the small increase in thyroid hormones, or the tiny dose of antidepressant I’ve been taking for a few months now. But I’m feeling better.

Still, my heart is afraid that means I’m leaving you behind.

The remnants of your life and time are still pressing into mine; your life, still woven into me. But something else is calling: the rest of my own life. And love for this, the world where I’m rooted. I still hope, and dream. I still want things—touch, deep talk, play. I want to see Peter grow and learn. I want to see how my daughters fare as they age. I want to be here if they need someone who holds them dear. I have baskets to make, poems to write, maybe a little book about you.

I belong to the continuing mystery of what will happen to the world. I am still unfolding. Maybe you are, too, in some graced and surprising ways I can’t understand.

Oh, how much I have loved you. But I still want to be free. How can this all be happening at once?

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