Nine Years

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This morning the yoga instructor began class with a quote from Sufi Master Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan.  “It is our suffering, our broken heart, that gives us insight into the suffering of others.”

In other words, suffering gets you in the club, the club that no one wants to be in but once you’re in, your heart opens to others as they join.  Losing Eric transformed my response to people I knew who had a profound, close-to-the-heart loss.  There was a new understanding and compassion for the disorientation and searing pain of grief, an ability to be with people in their sadness without being afraid.

I’ve had the club conversation with everyone close to me who’s in the club.  A nodding of heads and a heart connection, “Yeah, I know . . . . .”  And we do know each other in that place of coming to grips with a dailiness that no longer includes the loved one and never can.  Death is so fucking irreversible.

Tomorrow, Eric will have been dead for nine years and I lit the yahrzeit candle today because tomorrow I’ll be traveling.  Nine years in the club and being able to understand and support others as they come in.  It’s so cliché to say broken hearts break open, but they do if you let them, and that openness is one of the gifts of grief, that you can turn to new members of the club and welcome them with deep insight.


About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
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2 Responses to Nine Years

  1. Jen pierce-weeks says:

    The thoughts you put here, these were my thoughts as I watched Sheryl Sandberg become an unwanted member of the club this week. I cried for her, just like I cried for you, and me, and so many of us….

    • Grace Mattern says:

      And you were right there for me when I found myself in the clubhouse. What a great friend you’ve been.

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