We each have a light inside of us that is kept aflame by the joy we find in our relationships, our hopes and our faith. But when a loved one dies our light may fade a bit, overcome by the darkness of grief.
We may find ourselves in a state of shock or disbelief that our loved one is really gone following the death. As time passes a deepened sense of sadness or perhaps even depression over the loss of relationship and hope for the future may set in. Life doesn’t hold the flavor it once did when we enjoyed the presence of our loved one.
Albert Schweitzer once said, “Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown back into flame by another human being.” I couldn’t agree more.
I have found that during this time of mourning when we meet our souls face to face, the confusion and pain of loss may become overwhelming at times. We may feel very alone in our grief. So it’s during these times that we must reach out and not only ask for, but accept the support and loving care of others.
When we reach out, which is no small task for those in grief, we can find there are so many types of support that can help us rekindle our light of life. Some are blessed with support from within their own family. I was heart warmed recently to learn from a friend whose sister was dying of cancer that she had been the constant companion of her young adult niece as they tended her mom.
At the visitation following her sister’s death, my friend told me a little of the journey the two had been on, “I’ve tried to be there for her throughout this ordeal. I hope she’s not getting sick of me,” she said, to which her niece replied, “Oh gosh, I don’t know what I would have done without you. You have been my rock through all of this!”
As we spoke further they confirmed their mutual desire to remain close and share their grief in the months and even years ahead. My friend understands that this shared support must be ongoing to be effective on this journey they have only just begun.
Others in grief may rely on a trusted friend or two, especially if family members are not living in close proximity. When my husband Trent died suddenly in a car accident, my family did the best they could to support me from long distance. But I was struggling alone. So I found solace in the care of my dearest friend who offered her friendship even in the wee hours of the morning.
I can still recall so vividly the day I was struck anew by a deep sadness over all that I had lost with Trent’s death. As a torrent of tears burst forth from the pain in my heart and I prayed for consolation my doorbell rang. There stood my friend — the answer to my prayer. As we drank tea together and she sat witness to my grief, I was uplifted by the sharing of her strength.
Another manner of support comes in the form of a group setting. In our fast-paced culture today grief groups have become a well-respected and plausible means of seeking and receiving support. Because our loved ones live at a distance and friends must get back to their normal lives shortly after a death, a support group can become a safe and healing harbor. Not only can members tell their story of pain and sadness and know they will be heard, but with an intimate understanding of their journey, other members can offer consolation and a sense of camaraderie. Friendships are born in which the light dimmed by grief is flamed back into existence, albeit in a new and different way.
I have been gratified to witness the companionship of many of the widows in several support groups blossom into treasured long-term friendships. Several still meet socially in groups, while others travel and dine out in pairs. They rekindle each other’s lights when needed as they move courageously into the future.
I have learned that there are many who wish to bring us consolation in our darkest moments of grief. These are the ones that blow our light back into flame — the flame of life. I believe Schweitzer’s sentiment begs acknowledgement of our collective humanity. We are never truly alone. We can reach out and accept support when needed and perhaps even offer it in return someday.
Schweitzer concludes his wise thought, “Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.”
Take a moment now to remember with gratitude those who have lovingly rekindled your light.