Your grief and its intensity of feelings will continue to beget miracles. The very first hint of this is when your perception of your loved one changes. You discover that your loved one’s character flaws and faults begin to fade and eventually disappear altogether. The true and beautiful form beneath is revealed.
Next memories of your loved one are viewed in a changed light.
If you are very lucky, this emergent talent begins to spread. You feel inclined to look past faults in other people. These seem like nothing more than the frayed edge of a petal on a basketball-sized rose—a meaningless speck in a much brighter picture. Grief colors human foibles and they seem negligible now, sometimes even comical.
Sages refer to this gift as seeing people as God sees them.
Mother Teresa, one of the world’s greatest conductors of love, had this gift.
Once, our heroine and Irish singer-songwriter Bono were standing in a line of starving people at a refugee center. Bono said to Mother Teresa, "When I see this long line of starving people, I see an indictment of the human race."
Mother Teresa was surprised by this. "When I look into the face of a starving person,” she said, “I see the face of Jesus."
If we could only extend our love and compassion to everyone, how different the world would be! Imagine you saw your loved one in the next struggling person you met. How would your response to this person change?
This is a powerful practice, especially for those of us walking with grief. We are all weathered from life here on earth, but after our hearts have been busted open, we begin to see past appearances. We want to soften sharp rebukes, rectify oversights, temper harsh words. We encounter an angry person and instead of reacting in kind, we are more likely to wonder what pain or hurt that anger may be hiding. Selfishness and greed are seen less as a damning fault and more as a tragic emptiness that cannot be filled. Now we look past the weather-beaten shell to the simple (and often profound) gem within.
Where once judgment reigned, sympathy takes its place.
Small matters disappear; it becomes impossible to attend to petty concerns. The things that loom large in other people’s minds—the relentless push of weeds in a garden, the car needing new tires, the poor service here, that regrettable situation there— now elicit a small sense of wonder. You sometimes want to take people by the shoulders and ask, Do you know how lucky you are that this is your big problem?
This is what happens when your heart is busted wide open in grief.
Everything appears in a soft focus.
As if to compensate you for your passage, the simplest pleasures are deeply felt, too: a frosty wind on your face, bathing in a warm sea, a child’s laughter, the magic of music, a happy gathering of friends. It becomes impossible to take anything for granted now.
What is meaningful is cherished, and the rest slides away.
This amplifies life and love. You understand that this is what counts. None of the other “stuff” matters a whit. You now have the rest of your life to live large and with open arms.