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Karen M. Wyatt, M.D. Headshot

Blessed Are They Who Mourn

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On Good Friday, I made my final visit to the house I grew up in, which has been sitting empty, for the first time in 60 years, since my mother's death this past January. I have spent the last two months clearing out her possessions to prepare the house for a new owner. The work has been difficult but therapeutic, as I have agonized over her photos and papers and keepsakes -- choosing which to save or donate and which to throw away.

After three trips back to my hometown, the job is finally finished. The house has been emptied of everything except the functional furniture and I have closed the door for the last time.

As I walked away on Friday, a heavy despair came upon me that I have not felt before during this grief process. The reality is settling in that I am ultimately alone in the world now. The parents who gave me life both are gone and even the house that sheltered my growth is no longer there for me.

I have no home.

Although I have my own family and house, I am still an orphan with no safe place to return to when life overwhelms me.

There is no door that is left always open for me...

no light that burns in the window all night for me...

no eye that sparkles at the mention of my name...

no heart that has already forgiven my shortcomings before I even recognize them.

I am in mourning. I am finally beginning to understand what that means and to experience the depth and breadth of this process.

In his book The Hidden Gospel Neill Douglas-Klotz says that "to mourn" in Aramaic, which is the language Jesus spoke to the people when he recited the Beatitudes, can also mean "to be in confusion or turmoil, to wander, literally or figuratively."

Yes, I am in mourning. I am wandering alone and confused right now waiting to find my way back home -- but home will never be the same for me.

It is clear that I must now make a new home for myself within my own heart. There I must create a door that is always open, a light that burns eternally, a spark that cherishes my name, and a blessing of continual self-forgiveness.

For the first time in my life I believe I now understand the message of Easter and the concept of resurrection. There is new life that follows grief and mourning. And I must continue to wander until I find my way to that place of comfort. This is indeed a sacred journey, and though I cannot discern the path at this time, I know that I must trust it and keep moving forward one step at a time.

And I also know that there are many, many other wanderers on this path of mourning, though I can't see them from where I sit right now. To each of you, I send my love and compassion and a reminder that there is hope... there is resurrection. We simply must wait in the darkness a little longer before it will be revealed.

To read more of Dr. Wyatt's writing, visit her website at KarenWyattMD.com or check out her latest book "What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying."

For more by Karen M. Wyatt, M.D., click here.

For more on death and dying, click here.

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