Our lives are
We all want quiet
We all want beauty
We all need space.
Unless we have it
We cannot reach
That sense of quiet
In which whispers
Of better things
Come to us gently.
I was surprised to learn that these words were written 125 years ago, by one of the co-founders of the National Trust, Octavia Hill, who was a social reformer and philanthropist in her time.
The fantastic legacy of the Trust lives on in many places. Indeed, the rolling hills and parkland at Knightshayes is one of our favourite places to walk Shadow. The quiet beauty of the space never fails to lift the spirit; it is lovely to be out in the countryside, even when it is, as it has been for weeks, wet and muddy!
Quiet, beauty and space. Three separate concepts that are impossible to imagine at the outset of grief. Taking them one by one:
Quiet – grief is most certainly not quiet! It is tumult, it is discordant, it is constant babble, a tinnitus in the mind that takes over your rational thinking processes. How do you begin to find a lessening of that chaotic inner shouting? Only by separating those over-crowded thoughts, calming the over-excited emotions, and lessening that strain can you start to find and appreciate …Beauty. Grief is not beautiful. Grief is ugly, tear-stained skin and puffy eyes. But after the storm, after the torrential outpourings, after the mad renting of the wind that blows through your heart … then comes the serenity. Then comes the relaxation of your tense muscles to allow the natural peace to return, that gives you the face that tells the world you are in recovery, you are not wearing your loss as starkly as you were. Your grief does not define you quite the way it did. You can begin to embrace …Space. I still need space for my grief. My grief takes up as much space in my heart as it ever did, but I accommodate it differently. My heart muscle has grown around that aching hole in the middle. It is still there but it is blanketed by layers of love and time that make it bearable.
No, I am not ‘over it’. No, I have not forgotten it. But I live with it.
That sense of quiet in which whispers of better things come to us gently is mine.