Now I start to explore the gentle art of healing and self care. That is what happens. Big life events come swooshing into our lives and then we have to learn to adjust to what those sweeping changes meant. The lesson of losing someone you love is both excrutiatingly painful and a moment where you can get really clear about what matters. For me that is my deep connection to living my life with kindness and compassion. It is in these tender filled moments that you are stripped away from all the crap that builds up - no games, no getting ahead, no escaping that life is filled with awesome moments that stop you in your tracks.
The trick is to not brush it away, numb it, or pretend it isn't happening. You have to actually feel the feelings... even when they are bone crushing. I do that in small doses. I do normal things, work, take time with my dog, read, walk, and then a thought will come swooping in in and bring tears to my eyes, but I know that even that is ok. Letting that feeling of love, loss, regret, hope - all of it - come through me is what will make the loss not something that defines me or pushes me off my path, but instead becomes something that etches into my character.
I guess, after 3 deaths in 5 years I am finally getting the hang of it... not that it is any easier. I just know that each time it happens I have learned a little more about what works for me.
So this weekend was filled with yard sale shopping in the same spirit my sister would have tackled it (she was a pro!), gift giving and making for a family who will soon have a new baby and is just starting out, sewing in the style of Ada - fast and furious to make fabulous things, walks with my family, a beautiful meal given to us by our daughters partner, talking to family, looking through all the old photos, and letting the tears and the laughter come whenever they needed to come. It would be easier not to love, but it would mean giving up those sweet moments and memories that make life worth living.
You have to take it all - the disappointment, loss, anger, frustration, grief, suffering, joy, anticipation, and hope. You have to feel it all. Every last moment of it as it swishes through the moments of every day. My hope is that I come out of it a little kinder and filled with ever more compassion.
Note: Most of what I know about dealing with death I learned first hand and through the work of Elizabeth Kubler Ross. Her five stages of grief have been true for me. It was pioneering work when she started it and I am indebted to her dedication to healing through the grieving process and all that has taught us. For more resources you can visit her foundation, dedicated to continuing her work.