You know, there’s an object called a ‘yoke,’ usually made of wood, that you’ve probably seen in old movies or historical documentaries. It’s that thing that gets placed over the necks of two oxen, linking them together so they can pull a heavy plow or cart. Seems like a relic of a bygone era, doesn’t it? Just a simple, agricultural tool… That yoke is more than a chunk of wood; it’s a pretty deep metaphor for life’s burdens and bonds. When seen through the lens of grief and loss, it becomes a physical manifestation of an emotional and ethical commitment we make to another being—animal, human, or otherwise.
The yoke isn’t merely about physical labor, sustenance, or survival. You’re not just pulling a shared weight; you’re navigating the landscape of shared experiences, emotions, and, ultimately, shared existence. In fact, if you’ve ever heard of yoga, the word itself comes from the same root, it’s derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite.’
In this spiritual union, the yoke is not a burden but a symbol of connection—not just to another being, but to the universal spirit that threads through all of life. I feel that in the intimacy of shared burdens, there’s a doorway to something transcendent.
Caring and Giving
When it comes to caregiving, you’re thrown into a whirlpool of gut-wrenching choices. I’m talking about the kinds of choices that keep you up at night. Like, do you give more pain meds, even if it clouds their awareness, just to see them comfortable? Or do you hold off because you want one more coherent conversation? When the doctors throw stats and survival rates at you, do you listen? Or do you hold tight to what you know the person really wants? These choices, they’re not checkboxes on a form. They’re soul-searching, heart-ripping moments where you’re asked to peek into the divine, into the raw core of life and love itself.
Through the act of caregiving, through the immeasurable weight of the choices we must make, we’re offered a deep look into the sacred essence. Not a god cloaked in the grandeur of mythology, but a quiet divinity that can be found in the raw moments when love confronts loss.
So, this yoke I’m talking about isn’t just physical; it’s emotional, spiritual—ties that connect us to each other and to something far greater than ourselves.
Grief has its own language, one that defies the neat boundaries of words, flowing into the spaces where logic fails. When you carry a yoke—whether it’s made of wood, or love, or an intricate blend of soul fibers—you carry a potential for both love and loss, the likes of which can reshape your entire being.
When that yoke is removed, either by choice or by cruel, uninvited circumstance, you don’t merely lay it down; you feel as if a part of your soul has been hollowed out. The yoke is no longer there, but the weight is—in your chest, your shoulders, the pit of your stomach. It remains, an absence so palpable it’s as if you’ve lost an essential part of your own body. Suddenly, your hands are empty but your heart is unbearably full, full of love that has no physical place to go.
In the grieving process, this yoke takes on new forms. It becomes the early-morning ache, the midday emptiness, the nighttime longing. Here, the yoke transforms—it becomes a loom, each thread a memory, each shuttle-pass a day in a world forever changed yet still turning. This loom weaves unanswered questions into its fabric, each an echoing chamber in your heart: ‘Could I have done more? Could I have loved better?’ These questions don’t seek answers; they seek a reckoning with the incomprehensible nature of loss.
The yoke in its physical absence becomes a spiritual presence, a connection you feel to a being who’s no longer by your side. It’s an almost mystical tether that links you to what you’ve lost, and paradoxically, to all that you still hold within. You feel that responsibility never ends; it merely transforms. Now, you’re responsible for remembering, for honoring, for carrying the essence of the lost one within you, in the actions you take and the love you extend to others.
In grieving, you’re pulling a plow through soil that’s both barren and fertile—barren because of the physical absence, yet fertile with the emotional growth and spiritual presence that come from the ache of love, untamed and unpossessed.
The Unseen Bridge
Grief’s yoke can be haunting, but in its spectral weight, there’s a form of grace, an unexpected lightness. It’s as if in carrying this invisible burden, you gain access to a new emotional aspect, one where love isn’t erased but transmuted into a new form of relating, not just to those who are no longer with us, but to ourselves and the often inexplicable world around.
In carrying this yoke of grief, you don’t move away from the one you’ve lost; you move closer, immersing into the universal experience of being human. The weight of the yoke, then, is both a burden and a bridge. It ties us to the earth even as it elevates our understanding of what it means to be human—or beyond human. To carry it is to recognize our role as participants in a much larger, more mysterious dance of life and death, union and separation, love and loss. It can be heavy. Yet, it’s a weight that, when shared in love, has the power to elevate us to new realms of understanding and connection—both earthly and divine.
It’s not about ‘moving on’ or ‘getting over,’ nor is it about transcending or forgetting. It’s about carrying forward, about navigating a world that’s forever altered but still filled with opportunities for renewal and compassionate connection.
The yoke you carry in grief is a poignant reminder that Love, in its most authentic form, doesn’t know the bounds of physical existence. It’s a gravitational pull from the soul of the world to the heart of the being.
In a room drowning in tears,
beside a chair, a vase—
Lilies smell too damn strong,
like the choice I wish I didn’t have to make.
JoJo—tiny feet, sweetest heart, boundless soul,
you filled gaps I didn’t know I had,
making my fractured life
feel somehow whole.
Sixteen years, you’ve been my light,
through darkened rooms of my own making,
your blind eyes saw me—
and my fractured world, you were remaking.
Years spent navigating silent darkness,
sweetheart, you became my eyes—
while I held your fragile body,
you guided me to see my own disguise.
Your care a ceaseless ritual—
endless lifts and cleansing, plates and pills—
yet it’s your agony, a wail of your relentless pain—
that’s a weight on my soul I couldn’t quell.
Steroids, narcotics, antibiotics—a perpetual wheel,
your ears a traitorous soaring silent field,
yet your tenacious spirit could never kneel.
You stayed ever sweet,
sleeping snuggled in your sling,
on my belly,
In your final chapter, wracked with pain,
I faced a choice where each option a loss—
to hold onto you a moment more,
or free you, no matter the cost.
I wished for nature to decide,
to take you softly, on her tide.
Instead, it was my voice that shook—
it was my hand that took.
Doctor’s shots—one, two, three,
your little body stilled on my knee.
A cry escaped your lips, a plea—
Did you feel my love?
Could it set you free?
And in that heart-wrenching moment,
as you wailed your last, unknowing cry,
I hope you felt my love surrounding you,
as I howled a soul-ripping goodbye.
My arms a cradle, for hours holding tight,
as your essence faded,
into the depth of incoming night.
The lilies stared, their scent a cloak,
as if they knew the heaviness of the yoke.
Now, under a tree, your form takes its rest—
Love’s all I have left,
untamed and unpossessed.
Forgive me, sweetheart, for playing God—
for the choice I’ve made, for this painful part—
I hope you roam in boundless presence,
joyful and free.
Yet, questions linger,
heavy as the lilies-scented night —
could I have loved you better,
in darkness and in light?
Your ears closed, but your soul open wide,
now free from all earthly strife—
I long for your forgiving whispers,
on the other side of this earthly life.
(09/05/2023 © Julia Delaney)
Be Alive 🌱
Love ❤️, Julia
A Journey Through Loss
GUIDED MEDITATIONS 💗
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