The stained glass window. Each one tells a story. They are beautiful to behold! So many colored pieces of glass, letting the light shine through. It splits the sunlight into a million different rainbows of color. It beckons us to look at it, to absorb it’s story, many facets, many shapes, each unique.
All held together with a thin strip of lead solder. It seems impossible that such a beautiful creation can be held together by such a small bead of lead. But it does.
These windows endure winds, storms, rain, snow and ice, and beating sun for centuries in some of the most beautiful churches in Europe and all around the world. Some have survived earthquakes and falling bombs in the world wars. Yet they stay in place, ever bright, ever strong.
Our lives are like a stained glass window. Each unique piece is a different person in our life, someone we love. Each person has their own color, their own special shape. Held together by the solder of LOVE. We are all connected by love.
When a parent, grandparent, spouse, child, friend or pet dies, we grieve the loss of one of the pieces in our stained glass window. That unique piece of beautiful colored glass is now an empty hole. It feels like the cold wind and rain is blowing through us, through the window. It is raw and open. Yet the solder remains, the love we have for them, remains.
For some of us that piece of glass is huge, and it leaves a big hole in our lives. We wonder who or what can fill ever it again?
That is the task of grieving, beginning to fill that hole again, making a new relationship with our loved one. Will we fill it with a dark piece of glass representing anger and regret? Or will we fill it with a piece of bright colored glass of sweet memories, reconnections with our family still here, with remembrances of the love we still have for that person? The solder remains, the love remains, the blessing.
Our lives change after the loss of a loved one. We must create a new life without them, a new window. I have been in this process for over 2 years after the loss of my mother and last parent. A huge piece of my window was gone, and at first it seemed like my whole life, the whole window, was shattered. But as time went on, I could see that I still had many people in my life who still loved me and whom I still loved. They were still there, as was the solder that held us together, the love we have for each other.
The hole in my window that was my mother is beginning fill in with a beautiful new piece of glass. The weather no longer blows through it, and I can look back over our lives together and remember the love and wonderful times we had together. I keep her memory alive, allowing her light to shine through the window for all to see. She is still a part of my life, a part of me, held together by the solder, by love.
There are many ways to know that our loved ones are still with us in spirit, and my mom comes regularly to let me know she is here. They may come to us in a dream, a song, a whiff of perfume, a butterfly or dragonfly, finding pennies on the ground, “pennies from heaven.” Each of you I’m sure knows or feels when your loved one is around. I hear stories from patients every day who tell me that their loved ones are near them. They want us to know they are ok, that they are still shining brightly. The solder that held us together on our living window still holds us together today, stronger than ever, if we will only listen and hear them, in a new way, in a new relationship, a new piece in our window, the blessings built into the loss of a loved one.