A Blessing for the Brokenhearted

Valentine

Gary and I typically didn’t make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t for any lack of romance; in fact, just the opposite. In a relationship where our primary name for each other was always Sweetheart, Valentine’s Day simply seemed redundant.

Still, we gave a nod to the day by exchanging cards. And chocolates. Just a few days ago, while sorting through some of Gary’s things—a wrenching task I am having to undertake in tiny doses—I discovered that my sweetheart had saved every single card I had ever given to him: every Valentine’s Day card, every birthday card, every anniversary card. Many of them were handmade. I created the one above—in which the heart opens from the center to reveal another heart beneath—for one of our first Valentine’s Days.

Looking at the card now, I think of the nurse’s words just after Gary died. I had placed my hand on his chest and remarked on how strange it was to feel a heartbeat and know it was only my own pulse. “His heart beats in you now,” she said to me.

Though Gary and I didn’t make a big deal of Valentine’s Day, February 14 will still give me pause this time around. I know I’m not alone in not looking forward to the day. But instead of simply dreading it, I thought this seemed like a good starting place for a blessing. If you’re living with a broken heart right now, or know someone who is, this blessing is for you. In the midst of the breaking, may our hearts never cease to open.

A Blessing for the Brokenhearted

There is no remedy for love but to love more.
– Henry David Thoreau

Let us agree
for now
that we will not say
the breaking
makes us stronger
or that it is better
to have this pain
than to have done
without this love.

Let us promise
we will not
tell ourselves
time will heal
the wound
when every day
our waking
opens it anew.

Perhaps for now
it can be enough
to simply marvel
at the mystery
of how a heart
so broken
can go on beating,
as if it were made
for precisely this—

as if it knows
the only cure for love
is more of it

as if it sees
the heart’s sole remedy
for breaking
is to love still

as if it trusts
that its own stubborn
and persistent pulse
is the rhythm
of a blessing
we cannot
begin to fathom
but will save us
nonetheless.

– Jan Richardson


P.S.
If you are new to The Painted Prayerbook, I welcome you, and I invite you to read the brief remembrance and blessing I wrote for my husband and partner in ministry, who died at the beginning of Advent, several weeks after experiencing complications during what we had anticipated would be routine surgery. You can find the remembrance and blessing here: Beloved: A Blessing for Garrison Doles.

Also, Gary and I had planned to offer a new online retreat for Lent. You can imagine how it feels to do this without him, but I do not want to miss the opportunity to travel through the season with you. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this retreat is a great way to journey toward Easter, from anywhere you are. Click the image below for details and registration. Group and congregational rates are available.

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

43 Responses to “A Blessing for the Brokenhearted”

  1. Carol Hiestand Says:

    This verse is beautifu.
    are these your words.
    such heart-wrenching beauty

  2. Cynthia Vrooman Says:

    You are a remarkable woman and poet.
    I am so glad my friend shared one of your blessings with me.
    Now, I revel in your blessings often.

  3. Terry Neff Ryan Says:

    That was beautiful, I am going to save it – my heart goes out to you.

  4. Linda Cheek Says:

    So sorry to hear of your loss. I was unaware your beloved had passed until I read “A Blessing for the Brokenhearted.” It brought tears to my eyes. My heart goes out to you. May God bless you in your season of grief.
    Rev. Linda Cheek
    Brentwood UMC
    Denver CO

  5. Kellyann Says:

    Amen, amen, amen.

  6. Mary Says:

    I lost my dear husband and soul mate 3 months ago and I appreciate your beautiful posting and blessing – thanks – it is definitely a difficult time to lose a love

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Mary, thank you, and many blessings to you in your own time of grieving. May you receive what you need, each step of the way.

  7. Marcia Says:

    Absolutely beautiful…

  8. Carole Parmeter Dyer Says:

    Thank for this, Jan. I needed it, and I am sure many others do too. Sending you light and love.

  9. Mandy Lape-Freeberg Says:

    Thank you, Jan for sharing your heart with all of us. We are so privileged to learn from your honesty and your wisdom.
    Early in my ministry I had several parishioners who had spouses die that first year. As Valentine’s day approached I was saddened to think that it would be their first without their beloved. Thus began a twenty year project of having youth church members bake and make small crafts to create Valentine baskets for all our single seniors. On the 13th we drive all over town delivering them. It has been such a blessing for everyone involved. This year, I will include your blessing in the baskets of our most recent widows. Thank you for the care that you give to so many of us.

  10. MaryDelll Sigler Says:

    I was introduced to your blog by a friend because I too recently lost my husband. He died the end of November, just before Thanksgiving. We had been copastors of a church and the last six months of his life, I hardly ever left his side. Your words are beautiful and meaningful to me. As my friend said, I felt she was saying what is in your heart. She was right. Thank you for sharing from the brokeness of your heart to help those of us with broken hearts.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Many kind thanks for your words. I’m so sorry about your husband. Gary was my partner in ministry, and I know that losing someone who so deeply shared not only life but also work brings its own particular challenges. Know I’m sending blessings and prayers as you navigate the landscape ahead. Peace to you.

  11. Judy Grieve Says:

    Jan, thank you for sharing so very honestly with us all. Your words are filled with courage and hope. Amen

  12. Linda Faltin Says:

    Dear Jan, as someone relatively new to your blog, I had not known about your husband’s death. As someone who has “been there, done that”, I hold you in my heart as you go through this difficult time. No, this is not the time for “time heals” and other such platitudes…it is all too fresh, the pain too acute. And though, as time passes, the pain and sorrow and loss changes, the hole in the heart left by that person’s death is never really filled by anyone or anything else. This is the price of loving. I embrace you today and, if need be, will wipe your tears and listen to your heartache, for I know that there will come a time when you will dance.

  13. Beth Faeth Says:

    Your words have always been a blessing to me, Jan. I have held you in prayer as you embark on the arduous journey of grief. This poem is beautiful, and so real. Thank you!

  14. Maureen Says:

    As always, I am deeply moved by your blessing, Jan, this one especially. May peace be with you.

  15. Connie Tuttle Says:

    Thank you from this broken heart.

  16. Michael Landon Says:

    Thank you for this beautiful reflection and for being so open about your journey of grief… you are blessing so many by your faithfulness, love and integrity. Know you continue to be held in the healing light of God’s love…

  17. Laura Hudson Says:

    Thank you, Jan. You are a treasure.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Laura, thank you! I’m so glad that Gary and I got to see you last spring when we were out in Washington for the convocation – what a treat to get to cross paths with you. I remember our time with you at the Guild with much gratitude, and am thankful for the support and hospitality you’ve shared with both of us, including hosting Gary for a concert at your church. Many blessings to you.

  18. Jan Richardson Says:

    Beautiful and beloved friends, thank you so much. Your words and thoughts and prayers are such a gift and a balm to me in these days. I send much gratitude and so many blessings to you.

  19. donna leavitt Says:

    dear Jan
    I found your blog right after I had lost my son from an over-dose 2yrs. ago., your thoughts helped to heal slowly this aching heart. I’m so, so sorry. I can feel the pain so deep in your heart. People try so hard to say just the right things…but so often only bring more pain. May you as you walk through this agony feel love from people ..you have blessed me time and again. Thank-you

  20. Carolyn Says:

    Oh dear Jan. The expressions of your grief that you offer the world allow the rest of us to get a taste of how the loss feels, a privilege you put before us, to bear witness….may we learn and live the lessons in your blessing.

    Teresa Weir, in her memoir ‘The Orchard’ writes after she watched her husband slip from this world: ‘The passage of time is ephemeral. You wrap it up and put it in that place where memories go. And when you pull it out, it doesn’t matter if it’s one year or eighteen. It feels the same.’

  21. Pamela Shier Says:

    Thank you, bless you.

  22. Dianna Mammone Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing yourself so honestly in your post. Our lives have been intertwined over the years. I was saddened to hear of your partners passing. I feel like I’ve grown up with you both through the years. I’ve enjoyed your writings and they have made a great difference in my life. I especially like your devotional materials. Please accept my sympathies on your loss.

  23. Linda M. Goddard Says:

    So genuine,so honest,so simply and plainly true,Jan!
    I am sending sweet blessings from my broken open heart!

  24. Elaine Eberhart Says:

    Jan, this is among the most beautiful pieces you have written. It is especially welcome this week as I am mourning the loss of my younger brother. Thanks for this gift.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Elaine, thanks so much. You continue to be on my heart as you mourn the death of your brother. Sending many blessings and much love.

  25. Beebe James Says:

    I lost my husband 3 weeks ago. After 56 years life in a world he doesn’t inhabit seems unimaginable. A friend sent me this this morning. Thank you so much. Your writing is so helpful. And so beautiful.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Beebe, thank you for your words and for reaching out in your own time of grief. I’m so sorry about your husband. Your words about “life in a world he doesn’t inhabit seems unimaginable” really resonate for me. Gary’s death still seems nearly incomprehensible to me – how can such a force of nature be gone from this earth? And how do I move forward in a world that he doesn’t inhabit? I try to remember to keep breathing, to pace myself and not try to tackle everything at once, to lean into the care of family and friends, to rail at God when I need to. Though I can’t quite imagine a world that Gary doesn’t inhabit, I’m trying to trust that if I keep doing all this, and pay attention to what I need each step of the way, my imagination will begin to stir again.

      I wish you many blessings as you navigate your path, and I pray that you will know wellsprings of comfort and hope. Thank you again.

  26. DeAnn Miller Says:

    My husband died Jan 2nd 2004, our anniversary was Sunday Feb 9th. I was so sad that night I was watching the Beatles tribute and my heart ached. John loved music and I miss his voice.
    I understand your pain and heartache, it won’t go away but as time goes on putting one foot in front of the other gets easier. That’s the hard part moving forward and learning to love
    again. I love your poem, I will print this one out for my fiance. He lost his wife a month before my husband died, we have been friends since 1975! We are fortunate to have found love
    again. I remember thinking at one time “What are you doing? You will get hurt again!” Love is amazing, that’s what we are born to do. God Bless and keep your broken heart, you are
    amazingly strong all though you don’t know it right now. Thank-you for sharing your heart with us, I will pray for the Lord to hold you gently in his arms.

  27. Malinda Says:

    This was right on time for me!! My first love died when I was 19. I took the wrong road for many yrs. I have now been living for God in the last 7yrs. I have not had another real relationship since then. I am now 45. I don’t mind the singleness, but at times I can get lonely. This Valentines week has been extra difficult for some reason. Maybe because as each year passes my hope for love diminishes less and less. I have known what true love was and lost it so this poem spoke depths into my heart!! Thank you for sharing!!

  28. Lynne Lew Says:

    Blessings to you, Jan. I am holding you in prayer daily, many times a day, in your time of grief. May your heart never cease to open.

  29. Paul Tomlinson Says:

    Jan,
    Thank you for this wonderful blessing. My wife of 32 years died last June so this is still part of my year of firsts. Writing poetry has been part of my journey of grief. Your blessings was deeply moving and much appreciated.

  30. Carolyn Moor Says:

    This is absolutely beautiful. I’m honored to share the love and compassion in this blessing with our Modern Widows Club community. Thank you for posting. A very Happy Blessed Valentine’s to you.
    Carolyn Moor

  31. martha mclaughlin Says:

    heartbreaking. beautiful. thank you.

  32. Diane Andrews Says:

    May your heart mend by the Grace of God, the Divine weaver of this tapestry of life and may all the angels surround you in the darkest hours of evening when tears have their time to flow. As each new day dawns, may the illumination of Light and Love continue to shine upon your beautiful spirit and fill your soul with the deep remembrance of your beloved who is with you eternally.

  33. Stacey Hammons Says:

    This is absolutely beautiful and I thank you for it. My dad died just last week and I’m still in such pain today when I came across this.
    I’m so terribly sorry for your loss and I want to thank you for sharing your heart with the rest of us – your words speak my heart. I know it’s incredibly hard, so I appreciate your “blessing to the brokenhearted” all the more.
    I pray the beauty you have shared will be a blessing back to you

  34. Darcyjo Says:

    From one widow to another–praying peace for you today. It does eventually get better, down the road aways. Blessings, hon.

  35. Kimberly Says:

    I lost my husband Paul on January 10, to complications following (successful) cancer surgery. Shortly after his death, a friend pointed me to your FB post about the kindness of others, which captured so well how I was feeling. Last week, another friend sent this blessing to me. Paul and I met on Valentine’s Day, 33 years ago, and celebrated it only because it marked the beginning of our relationship. Thank you for your brokenhearted eloquence. Wishing you peace.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Kimberly, please accept my belated thanks for your words. I’m so sorry about Paul. I send you many blessings as you navigate the terrain of grief, and I wish you much peace.

  36. Sandra Says:

    Thank you for those thought provoking words re a – your broken heart Jan there is so much love and I could say ‘common sense’ written there and yet it is more than that, so beautiful, heart wrenching and profound, God grant you His love may he enfold you.
    Also Thankyou for your beautiful book I purchased plus your signing, you gave me peace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>