‘Prayer-&-response’

Elizabeth Gilbert pays tribute to her late soulmate, Rayya Elias, with an emotional essay on grief

Author Elizabeth Gilbert. (Getty Images)

Six months on from the death of Syria-born writer Rayya Elias, Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert honored the death of her best friend and soulmate by sharing a picture of the couple from their commitment ceremony — captioning the image with an essay on how she manages her grief.

“I have learned that Grief is a force of energy that cannot be controlled or predicted,” wrote Gilbert. “It comes and goes on its own schedule. Grief does not obey your plans, or your wishes. Grief will do whatever it wants to you, whenever it wants to. In that regard, Grief has a lot in common with Love.”

“The only way that I can ‘handle’ Grief, then, is the same way that I ‘handle’ Love — by not ‘handling’ it. By bowing down before its power, in complete humility,” she continued. “When Grief comes to visit me, it’s like being visited by a tsunami. I am given just enough warning to say, ‘Oh my god, this is happening RIGHT NOW,’ and then I drop to the floor on my knees and let it rock me. How do you survive the tsunami of Grief? By being willing to experience it, without resistance. The conversation of Grief, then, is one of prayer-and-response.”

Dear Ones: This picture of me and Rayya was taken one year ago today, on the morning of our commitment ceremony — a day on which we bound our hearts to each other forever, in front of a small circle of friends. What does “forever” mean, when one of the lovers has terminal cancer? That’s simple: It means FOREVER. Six months ago this week, Rayya died. People keep asking me how I’m doing, and I’m not always sure how to answer that. It depends on the day. It depends on the minute. Right this moment, I’m OK. Yesterday, not so good. Tomorrow, we’ll see. Here is what I have learned about Grief, though. I have learned that Grief is a force of energy that cannot be controlled or predicted. It comes and goes on its own schedule. Grief does not obey your plans, or your wishes. Grief will do whatever it wants to you, whenever it wants to. In that regard, Grief has a lot in common with Love. The only way that I can “handle” Grief, then, is the same way that I “handle” Love — by not “handling” it. By bowing down before its power, in complete humility. When Grief comes to visit me, it’s like being visited by a tsunami. I am given just enough warning to say, “Oh my god, this is happening RIGHT NOW,” and then I drop to the floor on my knees and let it rock me. How do you survive the tsunami of Grief? By being willing to experience it, without resistance. The conversation of Grief, then, is one of prayer-and-response. Grief says to me: “You will never love anyone the way you loved Rayya.” And I reply: “I am willing for that to be true.” Grief says: “She’s gone, and she’s never coming back.” I reply: “I am willing for that to be true.” Grief says: “You will never hear that laugh again.” I say: “I am willing.” Grief says, “You will never smell her skin again.” I get down on the floor on my fucking knees, and — and through my sheets of tears — I say, “I AM WILLING.” This is the job of the living — to be willing to bow down before EVERYTHING that is bigger than you. And nearly everything in this world is bigger than you. I don’t know where Rayya is now. It’s not mine to know. I only know that I will love her forever. And that I am willing. Onward.❤️

A post shared by Elizabeth Gilbert (@elizabeth_gilbert_writer) on

In September 2016, two months after Gilbert separated from her husband, Jose Nunes, the Brazilian trader she met during the course of Eat, Pray, Love, the author announced that she was in love with Elias, who was terminally-ill with pancreatic and liver cancer. Ahead of Elia’s death, the two committed themselves to each other in a ceremony and collaborated on a number of projects — including a song and accompanying music video that was performed by Elias. Elias died at the age of 57 in January.

“People keep asking me how I’m doing,” noted Gilbert in her post commemorating her soulmate’s death. “I’m not sure always sure how to answer that. It depends on the day. It depends on the minute. Right this moment, I’m OK. Yesterday, not so good. Tomorrow, we’ll see.”

Read the full story at Yahoo News.

CORRECTION: It was Elizabeth Gilbert who was once married to Jose Nunes, not Rayya Elias, as an earlier version of this story stated.

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