In the river of loss and love

A few weeks ago, my father-in-law died. Although he didn’t have the coronavirus, it likely played a role since he couldn’t receive a hospital procedure for a “nonessential” medical issue, and he ended up dying of complications that resulted from his condition.

Attending his online burial and family gatherings to honor him was both heartbreaking and a gift—a gift in that the stories that were shared about my father-in-law were filled with humor, love, and poignancy. It was clear that those who knew him felt loved and accepted by him. Even in this time of social distancing, he had left a legacy of love that brought us together.

In this river of loss, I’m touched by this legacy of love, and it’s left me asking myself, what is truly important?

My father-in-law was remembered for his cheerfulness and willingness to cut a hundred sandwich rolls every week at the senior luncheon, for bringing his wife a cup of tea while she was watching her favorite television program, and for laughing with his daughter over stories about her cats. My husband and I will always remember how he beamed from ear to ear whenever we would visit. These glimpses reminded me that loving relationships live on in our memories and in our hearts.

Since my husband and I are both working from home, we’ve been able to make room for the the depth of mourning we are going through, including the heaviness in the heart and the blankness in the mind. We’re having the opportunity to make space for the loss, sharing memories over a warm lunch or while holding hands walking through the park.

Grief and mourning and change need spaciousness. And through this process, I’ve started to realize how necessary spaciousness is—to allow a sense of being lost and uncertain, and feeling empty and full of longing. What is the spaciousness that you’re seeking, right now, my friend?