There is a Hebrew saying that goes, if there were no grief to hollow out our hearts, where would there be room for joy? I would add, or compassion.
We learn about pain by feeling it ourselves. We learn about grief and bereavement by losing loved ones. The lessons life has to teach may be harsh or gentle but those that teach compassion invariably revolve around a sense of loss. Perhaps this is what is meant by the hollowing of the heart by grief.
The sense of loss makes an emptiness where there has been fullness, aloneness where there was companionship. When we feel these feelings we can cry for them, letting our tears soothe the pain and wash it away, or we can cry out against them and they will harden to rock within us and weigh us down. What fills that hollow place is love. But we must pour it out to our own selves
As we grow older, if we absorb and process our life experiences, we develop that part of us able to look with love and forgiveness at whatever life presents. Those who die and leave us behind help hollow our hearts. As we let go the ache of missing the physical presence, it becomes easier to accept the loss. Time is the best healer, and patience with ourselves.
As I grow on in years, my losses
Leave larger holes behind;
in my life’s landscape, grief has been useful,
reminding me that all we have is now;
we had best enjoy it because it is a gift.
My grief is not a weight, nor a cloud,
it is not a blindfold hiding joy,
rather it is an ever giving spring
reminding me to look, to breathe, to know
that all life blooms and fades and love grows on.
Photo and text by Tasha Halpert