Strong Broken Hearts

Hearts are amazing things. When they break, it feels as though we can never be whole again. What we previously knew as love gets dashed on the rocks, shattered into a millions fragments and scattered all over the landscape of our lives. It feels at times like we can never survive it. And yet we do. That shattered, scattered experience is incredibly disorienting. It seems as though nothing is where we thought it belonged and we can barely see through our tears to figure out how to do even simple things: Get out of bed, brush our teeth, look into other people’s eyes, eat food, be… alive. Vitality can seem weirdly out of reach, like a floater in your eye that’s always just beyond your field of vision. Whether our hearts have shattered due to the death of someone important to us or the death of a hope, an important dream or a vital Idea, we grieve. That very disorientation is, in fact, a vitally important task of grief. It is part of what J. William Worden refers to as “adjusting to the new environment,” (see Our lives have changed forever. Most often, these are not changes we asked for, but even when they are, the pain can be searing. I’m the words of traumatologist and musician, J. Eric Gentry, “Love is gonna cut you ‘fore it makes you whole.” Sitting in the middle of all of that brokenness and looking at this overwhelming scatter of pieces puts us in a position to complete other tasks of grief that are necessary for healing. One of our grief tasks is accepting the reality of the loss. We don’t want to. We want the old life back. But sitting in the pieces, we come to understand on a visceral level that a return to the “old normal” is now impossible. This pushes us to another grief task: Relocating the deceased (person or dream,) in our lives in a new way. We sift through the pieces as we can. We choose for some to stay and some to go. We mosaic our hearts back together in a different way. At times like this, sharing our pain with others can be incredibly helpful. “A grief shared is grief halved.” We fear that in the blur of our tears and the fire of our anger we might lose some of those pieces of our heart forever. When we share with trusted others, they can hold some of the pieces for us. They won’t let us forget who we are and who we have been. In so doing, these trusted confidantes add some beautiful pieces of their own to our new heart mosaic. We find comfort, connection and company. This doesn’t take away our pain, but it does remind us that there is more to our lives than just pain. This is critically important to healing. Make no mistake about it: The new mosaic we form will also shatter at some point. Anyone who lives any significant amount of time shatters, reforms, shatters and reforms over and over again through life. As younger people we think the goal is to keep an in tact, shiny and beautiful heart. As we cycle through losses and changes over and over again, hopefully we come to understand a new goal – one of resiliency and continual re-creation. The joy of life is not only found in the wonderfulness of it, but also in the terribleness of it. Just as music notes mean nothing without silence to shape them, a vital life is composed of the full gamut of human experience. There are gifts to be found in the pain and our expertise in re-creating beauty is strengthened with each shattering experience. When we fight to keep from feeling our pain we cut off our ability to flourish and move from pain. We suffer unnecessarily. They say, “pain is inevitable, suffering is voluntary.” If we want to stop suffering, ironically, we have to stop resisting the pain. The pieces will come back together. At times, our best choice for a “trusted other” is a professional counselor/therapist. Someone who understands the process of grief, can help you choose healthy coping strategies and who is not personally involved in your situation can help you work your pain through well, hold importance pieces of your mosaic for you, and help you determine how you want to recreate your heart this time. If I can be that person for you, just click the Contact Tiffany button, or click here: It’s time to move from surviving to thriving.