Hope: is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
Hope is a powerful, though often hidden, component of grief. It is one of the positive things that accompanies (though often deeply in the background) the many painful feelings that grief brings into our lives.
One of the parts of what we feel when we are grieving is the feeling that what or who is gone from our lives has been replaced by a huge hole in our world that can never again be filled. I think though, that part of being human is also our uniquely human ability to imagine at some level that sometime in the future, the unimaginable will come to pass. That some day we will indeed rise above what ever we are experiencing or feeling. That something will indeed happen to fill the emptiness of our losses, even if it is something unforeseen, in a new and different way. It is part of our ability to go on in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds that is one of the glories of the human spirit.
I’ve come to use the terms hope and healing to describe looked for outcomes in the grief I and others have experienced. Especially during the dark early days of my grieving, I kept hoping that the pain would recede, would grow less, would let me stand and catch my breath and not knock me down again for a while. Later in my grief journey, I focused more on the idea of healing, of finding my way to places I could live with that would help me develop new ways of living and filling the spaces that were so empty.
But hope may be the more important term to keep focused on, not just at the beginning but throughout the journey. Because with hope, we feel that at some level there is a solution, there is a place and a time when things will change yet again. While those changes won’t bring things back to the way they used to be, those changes can be the basis for creating a new life and a new reality where we indeed can live again. We can work with those changes and slowly let them help us to find ways to fill the emptiness with new meaning and purpose and give us something to build on and grow with again.
So, in your times of uncertainty and loss, even if it’s just a small kernel of hope that you hold deep inside, keep it warm, nurture it and be kind to yourself in your grieving for what was. There is a time for all things and even the smallest seed can grow a towering tree of hope to help guide us forward.
With Hope and Healing,