Wednesday, February 09, 2005

"get thee behind me, heartbreak!"

as recently reported, doctors now regard a broken heart as a true medical condition quite different from a heart attack. and those who experience this condition "were grieving over the death of a husband, parent or child. Other triggers included a surprise party, car accident, armed robbery, fierce argument, court appearance and fear of public speaking. MRIs and other tests showed they had not suffered heart attacks." i would probably add to this list of triggers: getting dumped in a relationship or dumping someone and regretting it, saying goodbye to a friend, missing someone, and so on.

now, as you may or may not know, a heart break can sometimes last for days, months, or even years. for instance, grieving, which is somewhat related to this, has several phases.

and so, how does one deal with that abiding sense of emptiness and heartache that comes after the initial shock of loss? well, quite unexpectedly, i came across some insightful words by ron rolheiser in a recent column of his that referred to heartaches, a sense of loss, and a feeling of abandonment; and he names these prolonged naggings as akin to that experience of the devil that many if not all of our saints have undergone. "Heartaches, especially over frustrated love, might well speak of romance, but they also bespeak satan in that they drain the joy out of life," he writes.

then he adds: "Satan is alive and well, still tormenting us [as he did the saints] in our beds, in basement rooms, in dark stairwells, and in broad daylight as we travel to work. We call his presence: obsessions, heartaches, restlessness, jealousy, emptiness, fear, paranoia, old hurts, insomnia, chaos, and other names. Like the saints of old, we need at times when we feel strong enough to wrestle with him openly in the desert, but we need too, whenever our fears and obsessions begin to beat us up, to say the ancient prayer: 'Get behind me, Satan!'"

recognizing that a broken heart is a medical condition is very important. dealing with it spiritually and mentally in the long-term is even more so. and hopefully rolheiser's words are a place to start.

read his words here.

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