The Value of Brokenness

It has been a month. A month since my husband passed. A month since the broken stayed permanently broken. I held faith, up to the very end, that the pieces would eventually come back together and restoration and repair would be found. Instead the brokenness has settled. The reality that it can’t be fixed, that life is forever broken, is here.

A friend sent me a poem on grief which reflected the dichotomy of it all. The pull in one direction, the memory that slings you back into another. The smiles that come with reminders, the tears that come with those reminders too. The pensive nature of it and the immobility of it too. One line in particular struck a chord with me and it was in reference to life being forever broken: “Grief is picking up the pieces, and understanding it will never be unbroken again.”

The brokenness of not having my children’s father, my kids’ lives forever being broken. The brokenness of losing my husband, my life will have a hole where his charm, intelligence, and nurturing essence once were. My list could go on, but that is not the point. Brokenness is not necessarily bad. It is sad, but not inherently bad. Brokenness does bring out qualities in you that are refreshing. Brokenness allows you to reflect and be still and this always leads to something of value. Brokenness forces you to depend on others, to show your weakness, and to learn or to grow gratitude.

After Jim’s passing, many people from far and wide began arriving for the funeral. The consistent comments were “Your friends are so wonderful” and “Your neighbors are so kind” and “It is amazing how much support you have around you.” It was hard not to see the acts of genuine sympathy. I too was overwhelmed by the many, many acts of love. For example, after arriving home from the funeral with all sorts of surreal thoughts swirling in my head, I opened the door to three of my lovely neighbors standing in my kitchen waiting to serve everyone food. They, and many other neighbors, had put together a wonderful meal for us all in honor of Jim. It was a beautiful act of kindness.

After the initial weeks of my new life wound down, I knew I should take up some friends’ offer to go out to dinner with them. Another act of kindness. Four of us went to a new restaurant; we laughed, ate good food, reminisced about Jim, and it did feel good to be doing something again. They presented me with an envelope where many people had donated money so the kids and I could go on a vacation, something we hadn’t done for years.  I held back the tears.  I was overwhelmed again by the generosity and kindness of people.  Then we laughed again, I was able to switch back alright to the present and try to enjoy it for what it was: a nice evening out with friends.  But, then the desert menu came. It set me off as it reminded me so much of Jim.  There were the cheeses he used to love eating after a meal, the desert drinks he would savor, and the crème brulee, one of his ultimate favorite deserts.   I found myself having a tough time containing the tears so I quickly got up from the table, rushed to the restroom, had a cry, returning several minutes to the table with red eyes. My friends knew I was crying, asked if I was alright, and then as good friends do, didn’t make me feel strange or bad. We just rolled with it and moved along. I am sure if I wanted to talk about it, they would have been all ears. But I didn’t and they knew not to push. The dichotomy of it.

So the brokenness remains, there is nothing I can do about that; but the kindness pokes through those cracks and the friends and love hold those broken pieces together to make something that works, something unique and something of value.

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12 responses to this post.

  1. I’m so sorry for your horrible loss. I will be praying for God’s comfort upon you and your children.

    Reply

    • Thank you so much. I have thought of you often over the past month and some of the things you have blogged about since we have become virtual friends – much comfort in your words.

      Reply

  2. I am sorry-your family has been in my prayers. I sure it gave Jim peace to know that you would honor him by doing the work he left unfinished and doing it very well.

    Reply

  3. Oh Erica, I had no idea Jim had passed away. You are so right about being broken; I still feel it here on the two-year anniversary of my own husband’s death. It’s not as sharp, but it’s still there. If it would be of any value to you, I invite you to my blog about finding myself widowed at a youngish age. The better blog is on Facebook, but my most recent posts can also be found on WordPress. They are both titled A Widow at Midlife: Seriously? I started the facebook blog as soon as I was widowed and you might be able to find some comfort there in shared experience. Thinking of you, praying for strength and peace for you and your family.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Pat Lamb on July 29, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Erica, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I continue to read your post and blogs and they are so inspirational and you are so insightful. Jim sounds like such a great man that taught so many life lessons to so many people. Thanks for sharing your beautiful words and thoughts.

    Reply

  5. I only recently started following your blog, and each time I read a post, found myself hoping that the next entry would be joyful, your husband better. I understand your brokenness, but it is your wisdom that shines through even this quickly. Your ability to accept the kindnesses of your friends, even to see their kindnesses, is far beyond what many folks can do. You will be OK. Broken, and with a hole in your heart, perhaps, but you will be OK.

    Reply

  6. Wow. So beautiful. Wonderfully written and insightful. You are “purposefully positive” and it’s an inspiration.

    Your post and insightful thoughts on brokenness have me thinking about a mosaic I saw at an art fair. It was an amazing design made from broken pieces of china plates and cups, pottery and colored glass. Forever broken but rearranged with purpose to create a new treasure.

    Please know we think of you all the time, Erica, and continue to pray for you and your children.

    Love from all your friends in Michigan.

    Reply

  7. It is a crazy thing to be a widow so young isn’t it? I have seen some of your things before, but will definitely go back and stay current with your postings. I bet two years seems so long in some ways and just the other day in others. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Melinda Corbin on July 30, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Wonderful words, Erica. I’m passing this on to a dear friend and preacher I grew up knowing who suddenly, without even the slightest sign of illness, lost his wife of 50 years, to a massive heart attack just days before Jim passed away. He’s so lost right now. They were 70 year old teenagers and still so in love.

    I’ve said it before, your strength through all you’ve experienced is amazing. How wonderful that you’re able to so eloquently put into words Jim himself, your life with him, the childen and how you’re moving through the stages and events as each one comes along. What a tribute to Jim and in a way that anyone who’s lost a loved one would wish to be able to do. You write in a way that puts the pictures in our minds as if we were there with you. Thank you for that.

    Thank you also for your lovely thank you note. I’m glad the tree was a good choice for you all. Take your time and just “be” while letting the moments find their place in your days.

    Take good care,

    Melinda

    Reply

    • Thank you Melinda. Dear sweet Melinda…… I so appreciate your words – always. I am sad to hear about your friend and his wife. I imagine if they were 70 year old teenagers in love the suddenness of it would hit extra hard. Sigh…..

      Reply

  9. Posted by Lynn Wallace Turk on August 27, 2014 at 1:53 am

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your husband Erica. My mom has told me about your posts over the past year and I was saddened to see that Jim passed on. I know your faith is strong and will sustain you and your kids through this time of grief.

    Reply

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