Finding Hope in the Midst of Loss

By Lisa Irish

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A cardinal visited my window today, the burst of red in the grey morning made me smile and reminded me of Florence Trahan, RSM. I was fortunate to learn from her at Mercy by the Sea. I was blessed to pray with her. Sister Florence’s gentle heart touched my own as my urgent questions and thoughts filled the room. Where is God in this situation? How should I respond to the people before me? Her spirit sits with me now as I pray about the pandemic and my upcoming program on grief.

I’m aware that now, and during my training with Sr Florence, I want to do this “right.” Structure my day, I am told. Make time for both movement and contemplation. I listen to wise teachers online, as I listened to Florence’s guidance, and find myself lacking. Some days, I am not steeped in the “peace which transcends all understanding.” I dip into sadness, hover around fear and get drawn into the great unknown.

My study of and experience with grief reminds me to pause…take a deep breath…and open my heart to these feelings. The pandemic is an experience of loss upon loss. Some days I can’t keep up. At the same time, I remember the call to self-compassion. “The root practice,” Francis Weller explains, “for our inner lives and for our relational lives.” 

As any griever, I am doing the best I can. I am remaining conscious and bringing that awareness to my experience of loss. I hold the space of love for myself, just another pilgrim on the journey. In the midst of these times, Sister Florence’s gentle spirit reaches into my heart and reminds me that when we choose compassion for one another, and for ourselves, we enter the Mystery as one.

Sister Doris Klein wrote, “We must remember that to own the light is not to deny the darkness but to allow it to be transformed - and it takes courage to be faithful to this transformative process.” Grief after our loved one’s death and grief during this life-changing crisis both call us to an unknown transformation. That is part of the challenge. At the same time, Love is the light that guides us. Love cultivates the courage to choose self-compassion. Love, just like a visiting cardinal, comes at the right time to calm our fears and heal our wounded heart.

Lisa Irish - author, mystic and board certified chaplain is a frequent facilitator at Mercy by the Sea. Join this live, virtual program, “Conscious Grieving: Cultivating Hope in the Land of Loss” on May 23, 2020, 1-4 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time). Read more about Lisa and subscribe to her monthly Glimmers blog at