Is this the journey I signed up for? Is this really my path? I expected something different. Not that I thought everything would be perfect in any way. I just wasn't prepared for this level of heartbreak. Because no matter how many deaths have happened in your circle, you don't actually understand the depths of grief until it happens directly to you (a child, parent, loved one). I've been studying and teaching yoga for 30 years, which is a drop in a bucket when you begin to understand the vast levels of these philosophies. I thought I had a handle on concepts like the witness mind, the universal connection, and compassion. And, yes, the knowledge I have attained has made this grief journey less perilous, however, my mind is blown by the bandwidth of grief and how it takes you beyond all expectations. I've found that something else happens. As painful as the heartbreak of losing a loved one is, it opens the barn doors of the heart to reveal an awareness of what life really is. It's as if I was just reading the cliff notes prior to this loss. Realizing that there could be a tendency to shut down around the heart in a protective way, the opposite can also start to happen. Actually, I think that the opening of the heart may happen on some level for everyone, but it seems easier to turn away from it than to comprehend it. Some days I allow the compassion to wash over me and other days, I shut down. At some point I hope to find a balance in between.
I believe that any way you look at it, when that balance point is found, it will support me in leading a rich life with a new understanding of love. But, you see, I have just hopped on this train and the journey ahead is extensive. There is a lot to learn and that's ok. A break is often the beginning of growth like the shell of a seed cracking to make way for the young seedling.
Oh, did I tell you? I'm not young. The majority of my life has been rather protected as I dodged many dangerous situations with dexterity. I was fairly convinced that my fate was to live fully, sometimes close to the edge, but always swerving back to center. Yes, I was pretty sure of that.
What a surprise to find my loved one on the ground, 10 years younger than me, surrendering to death from a heart attack. Is this real? I understand it is typical to think that your loved one may show up, walking through the door to the greeting of "OOH, there you are!". Eventually the fantasy of this subsides as we get glimpses of a new way of living.
I'd like to share this journey with you, if you don't mind my direct references to the reality of heartbreak. We can break open together and explore new sensations and some comprehension of the calling that keeps us moving forward.
Val Spies, Lotus Pond Yoga Studio owner and Yoga Teacher training director.