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As Tears Go By

As Tears Go By

No life is without loss. No life is without a blackened wasteland where we wander, ghostly wraiths, haunted by the shadows of pain, anger, or bewilderment.

The lover who did not love us enough to leave his wife,  the woman who could not make space in her life for  the lucidity of a real relationship, the friend, spiritual teacher, colleague or boss, who unilaterally leaves us stranded, unheard. The child, who grows to a man, leaves our mother-love to answer his call to adventure, leaving us without identity and purpose, directionless, bereft. Like Demeter we mourn our loss, wandering aimlessly across the barren winter landscape of what is loosely, lazily labelled today as “depression.”  

I often wonder how celebrities endure the fifteen minutes of fame solicited by their relationship break-ups. The glamour of new love, the stalwart, much acclaimed “moving on” is captured by the Cyclops eye of the media. It is commended by society, eulogised by psychologists. The searing burn of the secret private death of that union, that love, must be mourned in a slower, more painful way, I imagine. Moving on is dealt with in Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief model, and loss must be honoured one tear at a time. Externally, we appear to have “moved on”, as we step out into the busyness of our lives, embracing new passions. But the vacancy of our loss remains, an empty room in our heart. 

Losing the people we love transcends age, gender, race and the accumulation of material wealth. My beloved 73-year-old aunt says, stoically: “getting older has meant losing the people I truly love.” A young client, inconsolable in her discovery that her lover has announced she is “moving on”, her passion cooled. A frozen couple, their marriage resembling a steel tramline as they live their parallel lives, strangers in the night. Their silent ache for the soft comfort of intimacy, their unspoken yearning for connection, now a distant echo of a passion once shared.

Part of our human experience is to experience and embrace loss as part of life.  We feel low, blue, heavy, heart-sore, weary, lacking our usual verve, frozen, numb, with the icy claw of the pain of our aloneness. We embalm our tears, make our thoughts our prisons.  Tie the tourniquet on our bleeding hearts so tightly that we close off to anything that might leave us open to the risk of loss again. We lose the wide-eyed idealism of youth as corruption in political, religious and corporate structures blights the seeds of hope for a better world.  We become infected with the virus of perfection as we scratch and claw, strive and struggle against our flaws and failures, losing our belief in our own unique potential.

We’ve read the books, cognitively know that suffering, anxiety, the unravelling of worry, the emptiness of abandonment are all smoky mirrors that keep us feeling separate from Source. We know that we are all interconnected, sacred drops in the Ocean of Divinity, God-Goddess. And yet, perversely, we choose to feel alone, to sup with sorrow, in the haunted rooms of our own memories. To ignore the soul’s knowing that lies buried beneath the fragmented surface of our fractured experiences. We may keen in our desolation; walk through the grim valley of the shadow of death, until we climb the mountain to the light above the dark clouds. Or we may choose to numb down the pain with busyness, with food, alcohol, or pills. There is no “right way” or “wrong way” and it may take a life time to learn to inhabit our loss, to endure the long silence in the wake of loss.  And yet, because each life, each birth chart,  contains an acorn of unlimited possibility, each one of us will experience loss differently and see the world through different fantasies that veil the truth.  Each one of us will have to decide to find the healing in every situation and solace in the secret shelter of our soul, before “moving on” with new strength, to transfigure our fear.

Marianne Faithfull



Ingrid Hoffman

  • Amy Brunton

    December 6, 2011at11:33 am Reply

    Another beautiful piece, many of us are now learning that the pain we carry is also as precious a gift as the love we may have lost, there is a healing in all that we feel and a gentle enlightenment as we accept our selves. Blessings Amy

  • Maeve Murran

    December 7, 2011at12:39 am Reply

    So beautiful Ingrid. I will send it to a clos friend who is leaving a marriage after 44 years. She is lost and grieving so badly. I feel sure this piece will bring her great insight and solace. Thank you as always Ingrid for your amazing eloquence and powerful way with words. Maeve XXX

  • Joanna Watters

    December 7, 2011at11:09 am Reply

    Anyone suffering loss or pain will be comforted by this Ingrid. Your empathy spills out of every perfectly formed image. Am currently supporting a friend through a situation of enormous fear and, at the root of it (and all emotional devastation?) is her feeling of worthlessness. I beg anyone in a supporting role to empathize but also to empower – to do one thing every day that shows the sufferer that they matter, that they are meant to be here, and that they CAN learn that fear is the opposite to love. In my therapeutic work I would say that moving on is all about dedication to truth. Thank you again Ingrid xx

  • just me

    December 7, 2011at9:43 pm Reply

    This is brilliant Ingrid…..

    The biggest loss of all is, for all the perfect words, ideas and encouragement out there, the understanding that some choose fear and can/will never accept love or that they matter – regardless of what we do.

    It is not possible to “empower” if it is not embraced.

    It is not possible to save somsone who is not willing to cling to the life raft they are given.

    As you end :
    Each one of us will have to decide to find the healing in every situation and solace in the secret shelter of our soul, before “moving on” with new strength, to transfigure our fear

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