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A Prayer For Loss

“Ambiguous losses are a particular type of loss that lack definition and lack closure . . .

hope lingers on, and it’s really hard to live in hope that is not met . . .

Humans don’t do uncertainty well.”

– Kelly Maxwell Haer, PhD.*

Similar to this moment in history, I grew up during the unsettled fifties, sixties and early seventies during years of nuclear threat, self-interested political leadership, ongoing war, social unrest, and the early years of environmental warnings. Within my own family, the silent unraveling of my parents’ marriage in my teen years, and my father’s sudden suicide when I was nineteen left me with an indelible sense of ‘Terrible Things Always Happen.’

Terrible things are always happening, yet incredibly powerful life-affirming, humane, and creative endeavors occur every day alongside the traumas and uncertainties—the ambiguous losses that seem to be piling up around us at an unprecedented pace —losses that have birthed this poem-prayer:

Things go missing

to accept with grace

these disappearances

our greatest

most humbling

and sacred work

Grace not apparent

in the midst of all

that is dissolving

only our greatest

most fearsome fears

at our side

Grieving is breath

grieve hard

laughter is food

laugh hard

our greatest kindness

constant at our side

To nurture the pulse

of trembling resolve

in all that lives

our greatest

most uncertain

and sacred work.

Painting title: “Away.” Artist: Rae Miller.

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Calming Practice: Holding Loss

Consider this haiku while holding your own particular losses

in your heart and mind:

One last rose blooming

despite autumn's wild winds while

sunlight warms its leaves

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