You’re really reading Holy Family’s new blog?! Thanks! We post on Tuesday and Saturday of each week, so please come back again. And now, a word from Kelsey…
Sometimes, when Brigid refuses to nap, we go on long car rides. (Not the most environmentally-friendly solution, I know, but it is the most sanity-friendly solution). She is usually asleep by the time I get through the drive thru at Starbucks, and then I settle in to listen to one of my favorite podcasts.
On this particular afternoon, it was On Being with Krista Tippett. She was speaking with Pauline Boss, Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota and a family therapist specializing in “ambiguous loss.” Ambiguous losses are those without a definitive end, maybe someone goes missing or dies in a tragic accident and there is no physical body to recover. Or the loss is incremental, like losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s disease or several mental illness. The biggest lesson Boss has learned from working with these families is that closure is a myth. She says that we must,
“Be comfortable with what we cannot solve.”
This idea certainly runs counter to our uniquely American culture, which encourages us to fix it and move on as quickly as we can. Every problem has a solution and we can find it, if we just put our minds to it, right?!
But there are things in life we cannot solve or change. They just are. And trying to fix or change those things can sometimes make the pain even greater. Circumstances rarely live up to our expectations. Friends disappoint us. Families struggle to speak truth in love. People die before we are ready to say goodbye.
Here is what I do know: life is hard and messy and it rarely ever makes sense. But some of the most deeply spiritual and fully alive people I know are the ones who have experienced the most painful struggles. To me, those people are still on the journey of being “comfortable with what we cannot solve.” They are learning to live in a liminal space, on the threshold between a life without suffering and a life swallowed up by suffering.
God’s mercies are new every morning. And, thank you God for that! Because, some days are harder than others. Some days the suffering is closer to the surface we would like to reveal. But there is life there, too.
On September 4, our family celebrated the one year anniversary of Brigid’s homecoming from the NICU. There are so many days that I wished our story was different…that my daughter did not have to suffer. That we would have gotten to bond like a baby born healthy and full term. But today, I can honestly tell you that I would not change our story. I have not solved anything or made sense of the 77 days we spent in the hospital together. Now, however, more often than not, the gratitude overshadows the longing. The joy outweighs the fear. I may never understand why and I am learning to be comfortable with that.
If you’re interested, here’s a link to Krista Tippett’s full interview with Pauline Boss: http://www.onbeing.org/program/pauline-boss-the-myth-of-closure/8757