With the passing of my mom, Roslyn, and closing of the Center I founded to honor my daughter, Jenna, almost 20 years ago, this past month has been a time of great loss and change. There has been much to process. Even though I’ve been surrounded by the love, support and affection of family and friends, I’ve needed alone time to sort through it all. In moments of profound solitude, I have been able to move through the sorrows, “what if’s,” “what now’s” and “how to’s” and discover five replenishing elements: gratitude, solace, surrender, humility and curiosity.
Loss begets a liberating wellspring of gratitude. Turning inward, I have come to feel so deeply grateful and privileged to have had my mother all these years (her 93rd birthday would have been this Monday) and so blessed to have touched so many thousands of lives through The Jenna Druck Center’s Families Helping Families and Young Women’s Leadership programs. As my grieving heart fills with gratitude, it has been allowed to heal.
My heart and mind have churned, trying to connect the dots, and magically undo, my losses. Why did my mother have to die so suddenly and painfully? Why did the Center have to close? In the solitude of a quiet hillside by the ocean, or hiking the canyons near my home, I was able genuinely be with myself. No distractions. No interruptions. With full permission to express my sadness, fear and unknowingness, the churning slowly turned to stillness. A calm came over me as I looked out over the ocean. Yes, I am part of a great mystery.
As I have surrendered the illusion of control, my profound sense of helplessness has subsided. My heart has slowly come to a place of peace and understanding about change and impermanence. Life is as it is. And I am a part of it. Breathing into this gives way to a restorative perspective.
Solitude is perhaps, above all else, a place to cultivate humility. In nature, we are mentored by something greater than ourselves. Taking alone time grounds and humbles us in the best of ways. We return to our lives, and loved ones, feeling open and ready to make contact.
I’ve been my mother’s primary caregiver and the primary driving force behind The Jenna Druck Center for a great many years. Bringing feelings of emptiness and sorrow into my solitude, I was able to ask, “Without anything to take care of, what will become of me now?” Out of that fertile curiosity, I have been able to feel newfound freedom and carve out a vision of how to hold both my mother and The Jenna Druck Center in my heart forever.
Taking time with ourselves, be it on a hike, sitting quietly listening to music, in daily meditation, at a baseball game or in contemplative prayer, can give us renewed perspective and energy. Unlike isolating when we’re hurt, angry or ashamed, restorative solitude connects us to ourselves and the people we love, helps us heal and affords us a way to find peace.