“[A]n emotion that rises from the soul.” Part IV of my healing journey.

Grief is alive, wild, untamed and cannot be domesticated… It is truly an emotion that rises from the soul.
– Francis Weller

Last week I began writing about my healing journey since losing my mom, then a pregnancy.

I am discovering it was easier to share with you the experience of the pain rather than the beauty of grief.

I want to tell you about the gifts that come from the wild, untamed, soul force of grief. But it feels wrong. It feels sacreligous.

I am re-learning how there are two sides to all experiences. Behind the dark is light. And even behind light is dark.

It still feels wrong to speak of beauty in grief. To exclaim the wondrous joys and gifts that blossom from healing. I want to say, but I would trade any of it to have my mom back or my pregnancy back. (And I would.)

And yet I can’t get them back. Instead I am left to make sense of a journey that twisted and turned through through dark corners and expansive fields with sunshine. 

I am still walking the journey and the parts with light are very recent memories on this journey. I am not prepared to draw full conclusions or to tell you even where this road will lead.

But I can share this: that beautiful and incredible things happened when I faced my deepest pain and my most vulnerable self.

When my small ego mind admitted it could not do it all, that it was not capable of finding the path out of pain, nor solving the problems of grief (as though there is a solution!), that it was, dare I say, FAILING in its job to fix, to be a hero, to stand alone like a mountain—that was the turning point.

I found out that none of us are alone in our suffering.  That instead of being pinpointed, picked up and punished by the universe, we are simply experiencing the very human pain of being alive on earth.

I found that healing can happen unexpectedly and rapidly when there is community and connection. That by standing in a sacred place among community transformed me. That the simple act of singing with a group of fifty, sixty, seventy and yes, eighty-year-olds, and looking out week after week and always seeing yellow butterflies, that this too healed me.

How long-buried gifts of writing, art, and music were not forever condemned to the attic of my life. That they were not merely childish passions that led down short stumpy paths only to be long forgotten. No, they were secret lockets waiting to be opened. 

I have opened them and I have delighted in them.

I cannot wait to decipher the many mysteries that remain. I have no idea where my creative urges will lead me but I know I will continue to be humbled by what can happen when you surrender to your heart.

Thank you also to you, dear readers, for supporting and encouraging me. You are part of the community and connection that has brought me to where I am now, and for that I am forever grateful.

Grief undermines the quiet agreement to behave and be in control of our emotions. It is an act of protest that declares our refusal to live numb and small. There is something feral about grief, something essentially outside the ordained and the sanctioned behaviours of our culture. Because of that, grief is necessary to the vitality of the soul. Contrary to our fears, grief is suffused with life force… It is not a state of deadness or emotional flatness. Grief is alive, wild, untamed and cannot be domesticated… It is truly an emotion that rises from the soul.
– Francis Weller

 

Advertisements

Finding My Village after Losing My Mom

The last few weeks I’ve found myself fantasizing about what it would be like to have my mom around. I doubt this is healthy, but it goes like this: I envision her showing up and going to work. She would get my kitchen really clean—sparkling, lemon-fresh clean. She would brush my daughter’s hair, patiently untangling it. She would spoil her only granddaughter with a special Valentine’s Day dress (something that I wouldn’t have the energy or time to consider buying). Even though I would say to her, mom you shouldn’t have, she would reply, That is what grandmothers are for.

love_quilt

Image source.

She would treat me to lunch, just the two of us. She would spoil me by footing the bill for a pretty new dress or shirt, just because.  I would say, you don’t need to do this. And she would reply, I know, but I want to. And she would mean it.

Lovely as this dream is, it is not reality.

I’ve been lonely for family lately. In addition to my mom being gone, the rest of my alive-and-well-family feels really far away. There is a literal distance of over 1,000 miles. Sometimes that is not a big deal. We Facetime, we talk, and we see each other pretty frequently despite the distance. But it doesn’t replace having grandma down the road. Our far-away family can’t swoop in to babysit if an unexpected emergency comes up.

We know that we need a nearby, substitute family. We are working hard to build our village. Our list of sitters is slowly growing and we are forcing ourselves to forge connections with as many families and friends in our neighborhood as we can.

quilt

Finding Community. Image source. 

I see this community as providing patches to a well-loved quilt that currently has some holes in it. 

Even though I might not like the fact that big, important pieces are missing from my quilt, it doesn’t mean I can’t try to patch it up, to blend old with new.

To be certain, there is no patch or series of patches that will repair the empty space that was held by my mother. That is not possible.  I see the new patches to the old quilt as being like those in a crazy quiltYou know, those folk-art type quilts that are sewn together with irregular shapes and sizes and using unique patterns and materials. (Hey, the name fits too. All families are a little crazy, right?!)

I’ve always liked the eclectic look of crazy quilts. There is beauty in its imperfection.

2320512273_de0b769d86_z

A crazy quilt pattern up close. Source.

Which is not to say that I always fully embrace the new. Fantasies about my mom come from a place of resentment. For the fact that there are holes in the fabric of my family. For the fact that clinging to my old quilt just doesn’t work anymore.

The problem is that fantasies never accurately reflect what was or what could have been.

Let’s be honest: If my mom were alive and well, reality would look a little different than the fantasy I described.  For one thing, I’d likely be frantically cleaning before she arrived to my house (in order to save face, of course). And while yes, my mom would comb my daughter’s hair, she would likely also raise my ire by asking, “Don’t you ever comb this rat’s nest?!”

While it is very likely we would have lunch just the two of us, it’s also likely that when she would lean over to pass me the bread she would also tuck my hair behind my ear, commenting for the fifteenth-thousandth time that I should “Just pull my hair back so everyone can see my eyes!”

Imagining this revised scene makes me laugh and helps to slay some of the victim-hood.

It reminds me that there is no perfect quilt. Well-loved quilts always have a few frays.

Still, I miss her. Flaws and all.

—-

You might also enjoy: One Year After My Mom’s Death: Overthinking the Deathversary