A Blessing for the Broken-hearted

   ©Suzanne Grimmett                                                                                                                                                 

Jan Richardson in her poem, “Blessing for the Broken-hearted” writes…

Let us agree

for now

that we will not say

the breaking

makes us stronger

or that it is better

to have this pain

than to have done

without this love.

We all know, don’t we, that platitudes don’t work in the face of grief.  We know that our culture which sometimes seems to prefer not to speak of death also is uncomfortable with the strength of grief and sits more comfortably with platitudes like, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

While there is some truth to both of those sayings, they do not often help. So we might find ourselves hearing these phrases on the lips of others when they see our grief, but make a vow rather like Jan Richardson as she continues her poem…

Let us promise

we will not

tell ourselves

time will heal

the wound,

when every day

our waking

opens it anew.

We must and can only begin each day with how things are, and with the way grief visits us. The problem of course with some of the platitudes is that they leave us on our own. The grief remains our problem or challenge. The power of All Souls is the reminder that we are not on our own, that we are a part of one another. No one’s grief is wholly their own any more than one’s life is wholly ours alone. As Ruth Burgess says,

‘Living and dying we are part of each other, touched by eternity, circled in love.’

This is not the cure for grief, but it is a truth that can bring comfort and, more than that, will stir up within us the strength to live and find new joy. We have the hope that death feels like the end from our earth-bound perspective, but that with God there is only an eternal present. Death comes to us all, but there is a farther shore beyond our horizon. Life does not stop but is transformed and the love we have known continues unbroken. There remains, though, how to live in the ‘now’ when those who have shared our lives cannot be seen, cannot be touched and our loss is keen.

Jan Richardson finishes her Blessing for the broken hearted like this;

Perhaps for now
it can be enough
to simply marvel
at the mystery
of how a heart
so broken
can go on beating,
as if it were made
for precisely this—

as if it knows
the only cure for love
is more of it,

as if it sees
the heart’s sole remedy
for breaking
is to love still,

as if it trusts
that its own
persistent pulse
is the rhythm
of a blessing
we cannot

begin to fathom

but will save us


“The rhythm of a blessing we cannot begin to fathom but will save us nonetheless.”

Our heart continues to beat despite the pain we feel, reminding us that the only cure for love is more of it. We were created by and for love, so nothing else will make sense and nothing else will hold us in life. This is at the heart of the promise we hear in Romans;

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is no power on earth greater than love, and death cannot overcome it. Love never ends. Not only is no love we have known on earth ever really lost, we also can know that we are never really alone in the here and now. Sacred ties of connection hold us in both joy and pain and, through it all, the presence of Christ who, by his life, death and resurrection, became one with us so that we all could become one with God.

So on this night of All Souls, we give thanks for the persistence of our beating hearts. We give thanks for those whom we remember with such tenderness and longing, and pray that we may one day meet again on that farther shore. We give thanks for the healing power that calls us to love again and to love extravagantly – love God, love ourselves, love others, love the world- that we may sense green shoots growing from the ground of our being that had seemed barren.

Hope springs from the truth that as surely as our hearts beat, we have love to share, and life can – and will- begin anew.


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