on how to grieve, change, & grow

Things I thought Id never say: "I wrote a ritual for selling a truck today."

The truck was this rigged up welding truck and it belonged to the son of someone from my church community.
A little over a year ago his son tragically lost his life.
Even though the man from my church knew selling his son’s truck was inevitable and necessary, when he accepted an offer for it he was surprised at how hard it was to let go of.

Thats how we ended up talking.

As we talked his feelings around selling the truck it didn’t take long to realize we were actually talking about his son –
about how he loved hearing the sound of that truck coming down the road because it meant a visit from his son,
or about how he remembers his son going off to a job he loved in that truck,
or about how he could always tell how his son was doing by how clean he kept that truck.

The truck wasn’t just any truck. It was that truck.

It had a weight to it.

My friend the rabbi talks about how things can have a kavod,
a special weight which gives them a thatness,
the sense that whatever it is isn’t just a thing, but something heavy and sacred.

That truck had a kavod.
It wasn’t just a truck – it was something that had been infused with his son’s life and therefore become full of memories, emotions, and meaning.
No wonder he was having a hard time letting go of it.

We all have those trucks in our lives.
These things that become thats.
These relationships, memories, dreams, places, houses, toys, buildings, and furniture,
these things that become infused with memories, emotions, and meaning,
these things that, for one reason or another, take on a sacred weight.

This is often whats going on underneath the grief and pain of life’s great transitions of break ups, loss, death, goodbyes, moving, purging, and change.
The grief and pain has less to do with the physicality and materiality of that which we leave behind, let go off, or throw out, and everything to do with their kavod.

Which is why pain and grief can be so damn complicated,
we’re not just rumbling with the loss of the thing or place or relationship, but with this sense that we’re also losing the kavod they possessed.

But here’s something Ive learned over the past few years as Ive moved across the country, left family and friends behind, and transitioned into a different stage of life, something that doesn’t make the grief and pain any less, but something that certainly helps me live within them, and it’s what I tried to offer that day:

The kavod doesn’t reside within the thing itself, it resides within our memories and emotions, which means it resides within us. And while death, loss, distance, and change may remove us from the object, person, place, or whatever, there’s nothing that can take away the memory, meaning and emotions connected to it because they never lived there to begin with.
Those things belong to us and will stay with us wherever we go, remaining sacred and heavy long after the physicality and materiality have gone.

The ritual I wrote was for just that,
for taking whats yours and letting the rest go,
for taking the that and leaving the this behind,
for recognizing and embracing the kavod in our lives and world.

So,
to all of us who are struggling with a this becoming a that,
a ritual for selling a truck:

Say ‘thank you’ to the truck,
for what it stands for,
for the place and role it played in your life,
and for the meaning and emotions it holds.

Once you’ve done that and have felt it’s weight,
recognize its yours and take it –
remove it from the truck and place it within you.

And then say ‘goodbye,’
blessing the truck,
sending it off with the hope that it can hold for someone else what it once held for you.