Kintsugi is a Japanese art form that uses precious metals, like gold, to repair broken pottery. Rather than trying to mend the cracks so that they become invisible, kintsugi highlights the “scars” as a unique enhancement to the design. The use of gold, a metal that ancient Egyptians called “the breath of God,” makes the former flaw a visual focus.
Kintsugi is seen as a metaphor for resilience, the process of healing, and beauty in brokenness. The actual steps to complete the task of repair have been described as slow and methodical, perhaps even meditative. For those who are grieving, the philosophy of kintsugi is a reminder that their broken life can also be restored over time. No, it will never look the same as it once did, but your future may reveal a different kind of beauty, one in which the missing piece is now remembered and even highlighted through the addition of something precious.
In my own life, the golden glue that helped put me back together was a mixture of love and support from family and friends, my own spiritual growth in addition to increased compassion for others who suffer, the passage of time, and the realization that I could choose to carry my husband’s legacy forward by living out some of his best qualities. This last factor, the legacy challenges I undertook in his honor, helped restore my sense of purpose and direction.
This was not a quick fix. Sometimes it seemed like I clawed my way to the surface where I was able to grab a few breaths of the sweet air of feeling okay only to sink down again beneath an ocean of sadness. As years passed, however, and I continued to look for ways to emulate my husband, I discovered that eventually life could be good once more. I could stay on the surface and navigate life’s waves without being so easily pushed under. I share this as someone who struggled with complicated and extended grief (for which I needed and got counseling), whose kitchen table was an altar for daily tears for the first two years after my husband died, and who thought happiness was reserved solely for those whose families were still intact. Though I never would have chosen this path of grief, I know that I am wiser, stronger and living a bigger and more purposeful life because I was forced to travel on it.
If you are in a place of darkness regarding your grief, may I encourage you to both seek help and hang on. The intense pain you feel at first does not remain at that same horrific level forever. I would not have believed this myself but know from personal experience that it’s true. Also, when you feel ready, consider whether it would be healing for you to create your own legacy challenges to remember and honor your husband or loved one. If this appeals to you, you can get my free Legacy Challenge Guide by going to this website’s Home page. From there, simply click on the “Get the Guide” button to the right of my picture.