In Japan, there is an ancient art form in their culture that takes broken pottery and puts it back together using gold lacquer. The unit becomes whole again, but the areas where it broke become even more obvious and visible to everyone around. It’s widely known and appreciated for its raw, honest beauty.

I like to think of widowhood as a true human form of Kintsugi. When it’s fresh, it appears there is nothing more to you than broken pottery…and believe me, you feel it. I never knew how possible it was to feel that deeply broken.

I wish I could tell you that I never feel like that anymore, but that just isn’t true. Now, because some time has passed and I’ve got a base layer of gold lacquer holding together the bigger pieces, I don’t feel so broken and empty all the time. In fact, I’d venture to say I have significantly more joy and happiness than grief. For this, I am truly grateful. However, I’d be a liar if I said there weren’t moments on the daily that stop me in my tracks, force me to catch my breath, and wonder “is this still my reality? Is Luke really still dead?” The answer to that still surprises me. I’m not sure it ever won’t. 

As time went on this last year, I began to feel and notice that healing, gold lacquer begin ever so slowly mending the emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical wounds (you think YOUR dark eye circles are bad….ha!) that made up what was left of me. Eventually, I began noticing that I really didn’t feel as broken as I once was. Instead, I was able to reflect on my progress and clearly see how far I had come. 

Now, I look at myself as an intricate piece of Kintsugi. Those broken pieces are ever so visible, and there are still so many moments that I feel that familiar brokenness that once consumed me. The difference is that now, I am comforted in knowing that the broken pieces are what makes me beautiful. The gold lacquer wouldn’t shine so uniquely if I didn’t have the pain that I did (and still do). 

Just as a piece of Kintsugi, no widow’s story is the same. We are all composed of broken pieces of millions of shapes and sizes. We didn’t break the same, we don’t heal the same, but we all understand the same pain. We are all a collection of shattered hearts, beautifully held together as best as we can. 

Strength comes from appreciating the gold lacquered bond that holds all the brokenness together. No, we didn’t ask for this life, but finding joy and beauty in it is the best thing we could ever do.

Be proud of your journey, wids. I know I am.

You are bold, beautiful, and powerful as hell…a living reflection of Kintsugi.

Oh, and one more thing, is anyone tells you that you are too broken or damaged to be a work of art again, you have my full permission to chuck all the pottery you want at them. We can make Kintsugi from the remains.