Unattended Sorrow

I’m on a sort of “retreat,” at a friend’s cottage, all by myself. It’s not really time off (I’m working), but time away. It’s absolutely “what the doctor ordered” for me after a ridiculously busy late August & September & early October.

I brought with me the book Unattended Sorrow – Recovery From Loss and Reviving the Heart, by Stephen Levine, & am reading it slowly. (Usually I gobble books.)

What a treasure this book is! Heck, even its title is immediately … evocative.

Do we not all have an “unattended sorrow” – or more likely several? I know I do.

I don’t need to spell them out – the old ones, the more recent ones; the details aren’t the slightest bit important. They all have a similar flavour. Maybe yours do too.

I know I spent a lot of time – decades even? – shoving down the ones from my childhood. They weren’t just “unattended,” their existence was utterly denied. Well, not denied, as that implies that I had some sense they were there. I didn’t!

Though I’ve felt as though I’ve been “handling” the more recent ones “as well as might be expected” – not denying them – I’ve perhaps been doing my usual “I’m tough! It didn’t hurt all that much” schtick. Not “honouring my pain,” in the Joanna Macy phrase.

Well. Levine understands. His words are like a flashlight, illuminating some dark corners I hadn’t even known were hiding there.

Highly recommended reading!!


‘Quote of the day’: “[T]hose who insist they’ve got their ‘shit together’ are usually standing in it at the time.” – Stephen Levine, A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last

p.s. back at home now. Still reading it…slowly, slowly. Just read in Chapter 26, “Breaking the Isolation of Fear,” the most incredibly moving testimony of a woman whose childhood was cold-cold-cold, & how she found her way – through “service work” in a hospice – to occasional moments when “…the love would get so thick I would nearly swoon.” Wow…

p.p.s. Found a collection of Stephen Levine quotes here