Walking with grief

Do not hurry as you walk with grief;

it does not help the journey.

Walk slowly, pausing often:

do not hurry as you walk with grief.

Be not disturbed by memories that come unbidden.

Swiftly forgive; and let Christ speak for you unspoken words.

Unfinished conversation will be resolved in Him. Be not disturbed.

Be gentle with the one who walks with grief.

If it is you, be gentle with yourself.

Swiftly forgive; walk slowly, pausing often.

Take time, be gentle as you walk with grief.

The Guild of All Souls

When I found out about the loss of my second child, I was devastated but to my own surprise also terribly relieved. Three years of waiting for this embryo transfer, having treatments, gynaecological procedures,  being on hormonal medications for months, worrying every single day, hour, minute whether this child was going to live. At least something was resolved. I knew the score. I felt free for the first time in many years. I fulfilled my promise, I gave everything to this child. Everything for this special baby who I was united with for several precious weeks.

The grief came later, it descended like a hailstorm. I was lost, what I was to do with this life? There was a big black hole inside me where the child had been. The effect of hormonal medicine was lethal. I was fuelled by anxiety and rage, running around the house cleaning. I had to use all my mental strength just not to explode and not to hurt my lovely family. They so wanted to help me but I had to be alone with these explosive emotions. So I took a day off and went for a drive. I wanted to keep driving away from home, away from this painful experience. I wanted to drive and never come back. And then it dawned on me… I had nowhere to go. The only place for me was with my loving family, in the centre of all pain. There was no escape for me.

As I was driving, I found a little church in Mendlesham village surrounded by tall lime trees. It was a quiet time of day and I walked slowly to the church across the pebble path. I stepped in and shut the world away with the door behind me. In the blessed silence and the scent of church wood I walked along the isle and found a place to pray. A prayer was provided and I was grateful. I don’t know many. I sat down and prayed. It brought me comfort. I also discovered a small side chapel with beautiful, suggestive paintings on the walls and a candle stand in the middle. The sign said’ please light a candle for a loved one you lost’. … so I did. I lit a candle for the little soul that lived in my body and departed for an unknown reason. I prayed and wept.

I found a poem on the little church table: ‘Walking with grief’ by the Guild of all souls. I was so upset with myself that after years of therapy and my own artistic work I was still grieving. I thought I had done with all that. Not yet, there is more bitterness in my cup. A pain to be drunk. So I walked, I walked along the river that afternoon, I walked slowly and I walked with grief.

When I got home I painted. I had to create this big black hole that was inside me. I had to see it for what it was. I painted with my hands the huge black space. I wanted to curl up in the middle of it. But the paper was wet, so I painted instead -turquoise, lime green- slapping the paint on with my palms. I asked myself: what lives in the hole? Red eyes appeared, that was my fear. Then a nose and lips and the lips were moving. Were they talking, screaming? No, they were singing!  So I began to sing while a face appeared. An old, wise shaman and we sang together the song of life and death filled with love and sadness.