Love is a sacred partnership of communion with another human being. You take each other in, and even when you are apart, you are together. Wherever you go, you carry the person inside you.
Communion means the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially on a spiritual level. When two people love one another, they are connected. They are entwined.
The word “communion” comes from the Old French comuner, which means “to hold in common.” Note that this is different than “to have in common.” You may have very little in common with another person yet love them wholeheartedly. Instead, you hold things in common—that is, you consciously choose to share one another’s lives, hopes, and dreams. You hold her heart, and she holds yours.
This experience of taking another person inside your heart is beyond definition and defies analysis. It is part of the mystery of love. Love has its own way with us. It knocks on our hearts and invites itself in. It cannot be seen, but we realize it has happened. It cannot be touched, yet we feel it. When someone we love dies, then, we feel a gaping hole inside us. I have companioned hundreds of mourners who have said to me, “When she died, I felt like part of me died, too.” In what can feel like a very physical sense, something that was inside us now seems missing. We don’t mourn those who die from the outside in; we mourn them from the inside out.
The absence of the person you love wounds your spirit, creates downward movement in your psyche, and transforms your heart. Yet, even though you feel there is now a “hole inside you,” you will also come to know (if you haven’t already) that those you love live on in your heart. You remain in communion with those you love forever and are inextricably connected to them for eternity.
Yes, you will grieve the person’s absence and need to express your feelings of grief. You must mourn. You must commune with your grief and take it into your heart, embracing your many thoughts and feelings. When you allow yourself to fully mourn, over time and with the support of others who care about you, you will come to find that the person you lost does indeed still live inside you.
Love abides in communion—during life and after death. And mourning is communion with your grief. With communion comes understanding, meaning, and a life of richness.
About the Author
Dr. Alan Wolfelt is a respected author and educator on the topic of healing in grief. He serves as Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition and is on the faculty at the University of Colorado Medical School’s Department of Family Medicine. Dr. Wolfelt has written many compassionate, bestselling books designed to help people mourn well so they can continue to love and live well, including Loving from the Outside In, Mourning from the Inside Out, from which this article is excerpted. Visit www.centerforloss.com to learn more about the natural and necessary process of grief and mourning and to order Dr. Wolfelt’s books.