I’ve learned that turning away from loss can eat away at your spirit, eventually slithering into every pore of your being, spreading out its sooty tendrils, and digesting you piece by piece, and leaving you empty. I’ve learned you can not pick the emotions you want to feel, for in doing so you deaden them all.
Grief and loss can provide a pathway towards more fully understanding the depths of love, the sanctity of happiness, and the gift of life.
You know me Mom, truth has always been a mantle I bore, and regardless of the consequences I would much rather live with truth, than with lies.
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”
― Leo Tolstoy
Our ancient ancestors saw death completely differently then we do today. In ancient houses dating back thousands of years, throughtout the world, they’ve found the remains of the dead buried underneath the floors. Either to keep their loved ones close, or merely to keep the wolves at bay, I guess we will never truly know.Now we keep our dead far, far away. Like the Romans, we bury them, or burn them to ash, and store the remains along the road sides, outside the spaces of the living; with chiseled granite stones memorializing our love and affection. Today many find it morbid to live too near a graveyard, as if the dead are something we must fear and keep away from.
Some of the remnants of those more ancient practices I believe we observed at GrandpaN’s wake. How surprised Lex and I were at the traditions still alive in the Old Southern US. Do you recall the horror on my face when you asked me to go in and photograph Grandpa in his coffin? I mean, I have a hard enough time photographing LIVING people…but a corpse? Seemed just too foreign to me at the time. Those photographs of families with their recently departed, all trussed up as if going to a grand party, are shocking to our modern sensibilities.
Mom, so few today can even handle their loved ones dying, and so bring them to experts to deal with. Dying is hard, don’t we know it, yet we could not do that to you. Some at the time questioned us, but we stood firm, and struggled certainly, but Lex and I would have had it no other way. Not for you, because you deserved the hands of those who loved you. You deserved the sanctuary of The Homestead to lay your weary head down, and ease the anxiety of fear, and take those last difficult steps within the walls of the home you had known since practically your birth.
“To weep is to make less the depth of grief.”
― William Shakespeare
Oddly, to me your death was easy. Tim’s was so hard, as he feared the pain, and believed that he couldn’t die in the place he had always thought of as his heart home. I tried to make him understand, to ease those fears, yet dying he felt was better handled by experts.
Maybe I am strange, atleast to some, but I am learning how to embrace both dying and death. I find myself searching on YouTube for documentaries on funerary rites, and ancient peoples traditions, and their attitudes towards the dead. From the Buddhist leaving the corpses out in the elements to be ravished by the wild, to the Egyptians creating houses for them to reside within, surrounded by all the things they may need.
I’ve come to understand these practices as being remnants of our Matriarchal past of 10,000 years or more ago. Perhaps the caring for the dying has always been the feminine aspect of our soul. Thus in ancient times, the Mother Goddess was both the ruler of birth as well as death.
“In the older view the goddess Universe was alive, herself organically the Earth, the horizon, and the heavens. Now she is dead, and the universe is not an organism, but a building, with gods at rest in it in luxury: not as personifications of the energies in their manners of operation, but as luxury tenants, requiring service. And Man, accordingly, is not as a child born to flower in the knowledge of his own eternal portion but as a robot fashioned to serve.”
― Joseph Campbell, Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine
From wearing Tim’s t-shirt he died in, to keeping his ashes in a box, or wearing your gold sweater on days I feel alittle down, I have learned to embrace death. Not as a shroud to cloud my happiness, but rather as a reminder, an honouring of life.
I see so many struggling to push down their grief. Struggling to find a place for it, fearing its tears and feelings of loss. I saw you do that when Grandma died. What I learned is that the sadness can be so overwhelming that it can rob you of living, and I want more from this life.
So as this dismal winter we just had changes to spring, and as the temperature rises, and the birds begin their mating chorus, I revel in this thing called life. I thank the spirits of whitelight and goodness everyday when I leave for work, and regardless of my sadness, regardless of the tears I may still shed, I am blessed to have loved, and been loved. For really Mom, what is grief but also an honouring of Love?