“Solace is what we must look for when the mind cannot bear pain, the loss or the suffering that eventually touches every life and every endeavor; when longing does not come to fruition in a form we can recognize, when people we know and love disappear, when hope must take a different form than the one we have shaped for it.” -David Whyte
Recently someone said to me: “I would do anything to make your life easier and as much as I want to do it, there is still so much pain and suffering. If I could have one wish granted, it would be that (you) no longer have to suffer and endure hardship in your life.”
I thought about this. A lot. It didn’t sit well with me. I have been wrestling with contradiction of loss. In order to find any type of solace, I have to look deeply into what has emerged since.
Do I wish that this had never happened? Yes. With all of my heart and a thousand times, yes. But – since it did happen – do I wish that I were feeling no pain? Not necessarily. This happened. We lost two of our children. Our pain is acknowledgment that our daughters were loved. That they were so loved that I continue to grieve, and miss them, even though I never met them.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
I would like to think that I am one of those people.
If this path was unavoidable (which, for my own sanity, I have to believe it was) then I have to find solace in how I have changed. Loss is part of my identity, but it does not solely define who I am. Spouse. Mother. Bereaved Parent. Friend. Worker. Writer.
I see the world differently, through a lens of understanding loss, through living loss. I would like to think that I fit into Kubler-Ross’s description. The deeper compassion, gentleness, concern, and even a beauty have been born from the pain. Through the ages, artists have been able to harness their pain and drive into it something beautiful. If suffering must exist, then from it I am determined to emerge.
And so I write; I create; I teach. That is the solace for my pain. What a hard, bitter bargain.