We all know that feeling of a broken heart – wow, do we ever. After Dave died my heart literally felt physically broken. It was doing flip-flops in my chest and skipping beats like crazy.
I’d been diagnosed with a benign irregular heartbeat a few years before when I was in my 30’s, but for years it had subsided. Two days after Dave died, I called my doctor, told her Dave had died, and said: “My heart is skipping beats,” and she told me, “You need to get in here now!”
“I can’t have a heart attack now – who would take care of my kids??”
I can only imagine what I looked like. Not that anyone would have cared or judged, except a doctor. The first question she asked was: “Have you slept at all?” No, I hadn’t, not for forty-eight hours.
Immediately, I was sent to the hospital for an EKG and because it showed some irregularities, I would wear a heart monitor for three days. When I felt my heart skipping beats, I was supposed to record the time and what I was doing, but I didn’t. I was in the middle of making funeral arrangements and had very little energy to do that, let alone journal about my heart.
So I turned in my heart monitor on Thursday, with zero patient notes. On Friday morning, we held Dave’s funeral, and on Friday afternoon my doctor called: “We saw you had an irregular heart event on Wednesday. What was going on between 6-8 PM?”
Wednesday evening was when I saw Dave’s body at the funeral home – when I’d brought the boys there with me. My heart was pounding and skipping beats. Keep that in mind, if you aren’t someone who’d normally be hooked up to a heart monitor. It was all so surreal.
A couple of weeks later after several checkups, my doctors gave me the green light – everything was physically OK with my heart. But it sure didn’t feel that way. My heart was broken because I could feel the emptiness in my chest every time I thought of my life without Dave.
As I began the journey of rebuilding my life as a widow and solo-parent, the concept of grief and Kintsugi kept coming into my awareness. The Japanese art of Kintsugi consists of pouring a gold, silver, or platinum dusted lacquer where ceramic vessels have cracked, which rather than hiding damage, illuminates it.
For a time I numbed the pain of Dave’s death by not allowing myself to feel my feelings and also by not taking very good care of my needs. Once I started to treat myself with the utmost compassion and kindness while also processing the pain and loss I felt, well…I believe the cracked vessel that was my heart started to mend – to “fill with gold” – and I knew healing would come.
Whatever it is that shatters us, and whatever state we are in prior to the events that shatter us, we can heal in ways that make us even more beautiful, or in ways that make the light that was always meant to shine through, shine even brighter.