After receiving great news I often experience a desire to reach out to someone, anyone with whom to share, to celebrate. When life’s sorrows come to my door there is a yearning for someone…something with whom to connect with…to find a shared understanding that eases the confusion that wraps around grief; yet, a bit of courage is needed…to silence anxiety’s voice, “to speak of death is lose the listener you seek.”
My mother, Elberta, passed away on the 19th of April, 2016…6 days after her 89th birthday. Since her passing, a number of popular culture icons also left this world…and I found myself, in response to the exhausting news coverage, whispering, “my mother died” as if this utterance would bring about a global moment of silence in which to honor both her life and death and to ease the aloneness that dwells within grief’s shadow.
One belief I have that has sustained me for many years is that to honor the lives of those who have gone is to keep them in the heart and be with others in such a way as to honor them. In an odd way…it’s like a unspoken desire to bring about…yes, a small bit of immortality.
I have read that one way (out of many) to walk alongside the grief and memories that come unbidden is found in the perspective that “in the days and weeks that follow a death especially for the first 49 days one can help the deceased’s mind/body by avoiding harming others, generating love and compassion, doing kind actions, making charity and specific prayers and practices that their spiritual teachers recommend and dedicating this positive energy to the mind/spirit of the loved one, wishing only peace and happiness for them and rebirth in the presence of their God or Buddha.”
With this way of being with grief and loss in mind, I undertook a 100 day-blog project to honor my mother’s life. She loved photography, poetry, nature, needlepoint, and teaching others sign language. It is my hope that the images and words within this project reached out and touched the lives of others with a similar sense of awe that she often expressed as she witnessed the beauty and mystery of the world about us.
My work as a psychotherapist taught me about the healing components of art, especially its means of communicating what words alone cannot convey. Also, during a difficult period of time in my life, a co-worker would send emails that included attached images of “aweness” and beauty. I came to realize that during those moments when I allowed myself to be opened to amazement my emotional self shifted from a negative state of mind to a place of equanimity…as if these images offered a safe harbor sheltering self from an emotional storm.
Thank you for joining me on this journey of 100 days…I hope you were gifted with a moment or two of “aweness”, contemplation, and/or equanimity as you wandered through the gallery of these writings and images.
From this day forward, I will be…
may we find peace.