What's Your Hope?
From the March/April Issue of SEASONS Bereavement Newsletter
Spring is coming, though it seems to take its time arriving here in Vermont. People usually associate spring with renewal and hope, yet when someone close to you has died it can be hard to imagine ever feeling hopeful again. Many people find that hope is near the bottom of the list of their emotional inventory, if it even makes the list.
What is hope? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives us a short definition: hope: desire with expectation of fulfillment. Wikipedia's definition is longer: Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one's life or the world at large. A poetic take on it comes in a famous line of an Emily Dickinson poem: Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all. Maybe you have your own idea of what hope means to you.
It does no good when others tell you to be hopeful, or when you try to force yourself into feeling hope. But most people who are grieving and feeling hopeless find that at some point in time as they move through grief, a glimmer of hope appears. It might feel quite small and elusive, yet recognizable as hope. Gradually, the glimmer becomes brighter and more tangible.
If hope is eluding you as you grieve, here are a couple of suggestions. James E. Miller, author of the small book "One you love has died" (which many of you have received from us), suggests that if you can't find your own hope, ask a trusted person to hold your hope for you, until you are ready to hold it for yourself. This might seem like a strange concept, but consider it.
Another idea is this: right now, right where you're sitting, take a deep slow breath, close your eyes, and try to imagine what you would hope for if you could hope. Stay with this question, with your eyes closed, trying to keep your breath slow and deep, until something, no matter how small or insignificant comes to you, that you hope for. Then, for the next few days, return to your image of hope and see if it can become more real in your life.
Hope is one of those human experiences that gives meaning to our lives. My wish for you is that you find your hope as you grieve.