Etymology: Middle English, from Old English hol (from neuter of hol, adjective, hollow) & holh; akin to Old High German hol, adjective, hollow and perhaps to Old English helan to conceal
Date: before 12th century
1. an area where something is missing; 2. a hollowed-out place: as a cave, pit, or well in the ground; 3. a wretched or dreary place.
This hole in the ground lays open, waiting for the casket and body to fill it. While there are a variety of options available when someone dies, most people still choose to be buried – to be put into a hole in the ground. The symbolism in that is powerful. While the body of the deceased fills a place in the ground, loved ones wonder how to fill the hole left by the person whose body now lies in the ground.
That hole in ones life can feel like a hollowed-out place, and many people struggle with how to live in light of the loss. It is hard to trudge through the days and nights with a hole in ones life. A hard reality is that for most people who suffer a significant loss, the hole will never be filled. It doesn’t mean joy and happiness cannot be found, but the hole is always present. Perhaps the best we can do is honor that place; to be present with the sadness and the loneliness but not try to stuff it full of other things that cannot replace what was once there.
In a few days I will turn 50 and on that day I will also observe the 9th anniversary of my mother’s death. The hole left by both of my parents is still empty, and I no longer have hope of filling it, but all these years later I feel more comfortable with letting the hole exist without the desperate need to fill it. I am more able to sit with the sadness and honor the place it has in my life and even celebrate the person it has helped me to become.