A while ago, I received an email from my friend Linda, asking if I could send her a few words describing her mum Madeleine (also a friend) as she was making her a word cloud.
“What is a word cloud?” I asked Linda… and she directed me to the website Wordle.
Basically, Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and colour schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.
It was no problem for me to send some words to Linda and then I idled away some time on Wordle myself. I created two word clouds, one comprising negative words such as fear and anxiety, and one positive, like sunshine and light, reflecting how I view the progression of my own grief path over the nine years since my dear son James died.
I printed out the word clouds and when I was done I noticed there was a single word that appeared in both lists, the positive and the negative. And that word is… love.
Is love, then, key to grieving? Perhaps it is. Because it is love for your lost child, parent, sibling, peer, friend, colleague, neighbour, that is the first and foremost emotion surrounding their passing.
It is love that fuels your compassion and empathy.
It is love which gives us the ability to feel both pain and pleasure.
It is love that you shared with the person who died that populates your memories of them and it is love that ensures your grief gradually becomes a gentler thing.
It may seem odd to talk of love when you think of the rage, fear and tumult of early loss … but the love that you feel coming back at you from those around you .. when you are ready … is a seriously important part of the grieving process.
Grief and loss and love are, it seems to me, inextricably bound up together and I am thankful for that. And for all the reading and writing abut grief that exists, I relate to this quote by the founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley, who said,
“Beware you be not swallowed up in books! An ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge.”