At the Living With Loss group last night, we were asked to consider what we would wish for others who are grieving, what blessing we would make to them.

Peace seemed to be the official answer, but I went in a different way.

Patience I would bless them with if I could, yes, because time is required to gain context.

But my blessing?  L’Chaim.  To Life.

It is so easy to get fogged by death, to focus on loss.

But each of our loved ones had a life that had value.  And to us, they lived a life that has value, because we still carry it with us.  We carry it with us in the memories of their vitality, and we carry it with us in the lessons of their death.  They touched people, and we know that profoundly because they touched us.

And, lest we forget, we have a life, still.  We have the power to wake up and to feel the sunshine and to hug people and do great things and to become newer.

Their life has value and so does ours, and finding a way to hold on to that even in the midst of enormous grief seems vital.  I know it was something my mother could not do after my father died.

If you can only say one prayer, “Thank You” will suffice.  Gratitude, for lives that have been lived, gratitude for lives we still live is the foundation of moving forward, at least to me.

But in the Living With Loss group, well, this is hard stuff to say out loud, because for most it is a place where they can hold onto their grief.  It’s very important to have a place where people can go and gather in the shared understanding of loss, since so much of this culture creates a cultured ignorance, a cultured denial of loss.  People do need safe space to share their despair and desolation, no doubt.  But any group that doesn’t value the process of growing through loss, doesn’t hold a glint of sunshine for the future, doesn’t honour life as well as death, well, that feels too constrained and claustrophobic for me.

If the experience of death doesn’t help us value the experience of life, what else can it give us?

There didn’t feel like there was space to talk about engaging life last night, to say, with meaning, L’Chaim! There felt like a need to venerate loss, to be silent in the face of others continuing grief, even as they resisted the lessons that loss can teach us about valuing life.

Which is why I don’t think I’ll go to Living With Loss (Imagine! Living in the title!) again.

Bless them all.