I share a lot online; it’s part of my work. I’m willing to do it because I know the benefits of sharing one’s stories. But when something personal happens, and it’s still raw, grieving in public spaces is extremely difficult. I’m still realizing that time didn’t stop for the rest of the world since my aunt passed away two weeks ago. Instead my work piled up, laundry followed suit – and somehow with less energy than I have had in awhile, I have to climb this mountain while keeping life as normal as possible for the kids. That means keeping up with field trips and notices and sports.
The quiet hush we lived in with close family and friends is now lifting and I’m stepping out into the sun, blinking, looking around at this new life. I’ve been here before, and I have no doubt that my family and I will move forward. Our get-togethers will once again be joyful, we will laugh. We will watch the kids grow and ask each other for advice. We will sound like our mothers. And the ache of that recognition will be more gentle and tender as the years go by. I know we will get there, but today we are facing our collective and individual traumas.
Grieving is a different process for each of us. Much of my solace comes from writing and telling stories. Sometimes the stories rip open the tiny seams I have stitched across the hole that grief made. But then the next seams that are stitched are stronger, tighter. I also turn to another source of ‘mother’ for me, and that is Mother Nature herself. Last week, I visited the river and trees at Surrey’s Serpentine Fen. I listened to the birds and took in lungfuls of air heavy with a syrupy scent. I forced myself to notice, to be present, to get out of my own head. With each step on the trails, it got easier to surrender to the fact that life will go on. That there will be new forms of life.
So, I’ll keep walking along this trail and I’ll use the tools I have come to rely on during the difficult times: writing uninhibited in my journal; sharing what might help you, too, on my blog and other places; a good old-fashioned cry; the love of my family and close friends; and of course, my faith that everything happens for the best.
I’m also looking ahead to teaching more writing classes in the fall, as well as writing about travel and the arts, and enjoying motherhood with a new perspective that a loss often brings. I find the best way to move forward is to look in that direction. We always carry our loved ones with us, and while I enjoy the comfort of their memories when I need their company the most, a life cannot be lived backwards.
I hope that if you are experiencing a loss of some kind – whether it be a relationship, an ability, or the life of someone close to you – this helps you in some way. And if you have tools you’d like to share with us in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.