Testimony > Mourning

The work of mourning

In 1984, when I joined IVI, I discovered an act which has always supported me, encouraged me to persevere and to hope. In order to work through my trials and momentary difficulties, I would pray, and I still do pray, for "all those who are experiencing the same thing as me." 

Of course, there are times when my inner saboteur tries to persuade me that these intentions are absolutely worthless, and criticises my Joan of Arc attitude, always ready to save lost souls. But the relief that these prayers have brought me has overcome the tempter. So today, I pray for all the widows and families who are dealing with mourning.

Mourning, or the pain of loss…

In our consumer societies, where we live under the law of "Everything – NOW !", the work of mourning requires inner focus. Praying in order to get it over with is not enough. Once again, we have to allow time to do its work, and allow our soul to continue its work of repair at its own rhythm.

During such times, the person in mourning is submerged by an infinity of emotions. She must take care of herself. It's up to her to adopt the example of Mary, our universal mother, and surround the wounded child within her with tenderness, consolation and compassion. It's up to her to look after herself. It is only by loving ourselves that we can love others, that a widow can care for her children and her family, and also receive the comfort of her friends.

Today, the work of mourning is ruled by material laws, financial constraints, administrative obligations which increase our feelings of uncertainty and moral insecurity.

In any case, there is the journey of the soul which has just experienced a loss :

- the forgiveness we must offer ourselves to banish the remorse we may feel for not having told or showed our missing partner how much we loved them,

- the forgiveness we must offer our departed for having left us,

- the acceptance of the shock of his departure,

- the revelation of our refusal to accept his death,

- transcendence of the anger his abandon provokes,

- acceptance of the destruction of our dreams and projects for the future,

- acceptance of a new form of solitude, while preserving ourselves from isolation…

The means of expressing the inacceptable

I'll resume all of that in a single word : Emotion. And what emotions!

In the space of a few months, a few seconds… our life crashes and burns.

For our family, our existence was changed for ever in the space of a week. On the 8th of September, my husband was fine, and on the 15th, I learned that he was suffering from an incurable disease.

Some families get no warning at all - a car accident, a plane crash, and it's all over.

So, yes, emotions… Let's allow them to penetrate us, wash through us… Let's live them. Let's not deny them, otherwise they'll come back with increased force like a tsunami, condemning us to burn-out, or what the French commonly call blowing a fuse. This is why some psychologists advise some of us not make important decisions during a period of mourning…

So let's accept all these emotions as the means of expressing the inacceptable.

Tears can lead to laughter.

An English proverb tells us : "Your soul would not see rainbows if there were no tears in your eyes…"

Healing from mourning means accepting the experience of all these emotions.

It's accepting the departure of the loved one, and knowing that he's happy, even if that doesn't console us - yet…

How many times since his death have I wanted to say that that my solitude began right next to him ?

And yet I'm moving towards a new truth – the truth that I am no longer alone in my solitude, but inhabited by the divine Presence – even more than before, but especially with more awareness than before.

I move ahead in order to breathe and hope to live again – differently, a new life.

I'm moving on. Time is of no importance. Simply, in the certainty of moving on and knowing that I am loved. Just the present moment.

Soon I'll be ready to accept the heritage of the departed – the qualities, the grace, the values which made up the man who has gone. Ready to live within myself the things he taught me, transmitted to me, shared with me, during the life we shared, his generosity, his tenderness, his humour…

Ready to live him within myself as I continue to live for myself.

Ready to live him within myself in order to share him with our children so that his heritage can live on in them.

That's life !

Albertine