Grief is multi-faceted; it does not follow any linear pattern, and often it does not make any sense at all. There is no right or wrong way of grieving. I had thought, when my brother passed in 2010, that my work was to be of support to my mother and my father; whose grief was that which sends those of us with children into a fear of the same loss. When my mother passed, my work was to support my father, whose love of his wife and his grief was so palpable that I feared he would die from it. When my father died, it all crashed down on me, all the grief and loss of my family at once.
Grief is not just a loss of life; it is a loss of anything. It is divorce, a friendship ending, a job loss, or home or furry friend. Combining those with the loss of life is something every single one of us shares. Our pain, our suffering, may look different to each of us; but it is a shared experience and one that will follow us all of our days.
I became a Death Midwife in 2019 to work more closely with those within my community who needed my service. I sat through my mother’s illness and her passing and was aware that I would likely follow that with my father. His health was declining. In fact, he would pass only three months after I received my certification. I thought I would be prepared. But nothing could prepare me for the passing of the man who held the family; the loving and powerful presence that supported my dreams and purposes. Unfortunately, it also plummeted me into a vast swell of pain for the loss of my brother and mother. All the grief I had pushed down for nearly a decade. It was also the catalyst that ended my marriage.
I lived in a fog for the first two years after dad passed and my divorce finalized; I made questionable decisions and I found myself feeling more isolated than ever before. As a leader of my own Magickal community, and as a practitioner and businesswoman, I thought I had held on when in fact I was simply surviving. Today, I see all these things as victories. Sometimes, merely surviving is the best we can do. Through all of this I wrote; poetry that allowed me to verbalize all that I was trying so hard to understand and overcome.
This time of Imbolc, I am reminded of how grief is let out in time, similar to how a balloon slowly loses air. Initially, the pain is often too intense to release; we hold our breaths through some of it, feeling like it may well destroy us…kill us, even. And then we find ourselves getting through the days, until holidays, anniversaries, birthdays come upon us and that stinging comes back as though the loss just occurred. And we wonder, aloud or to ourselves, if this will just continue. Another day passes of surviving something we don’t always understand but feel as though it might be put away somehow.
Forced reconciliation of our emotions doesn’t work. I know, I tried it from the moment my brother passed. I learned not to compare how I grieve to how others have done it; I failed, and I succeeded. I continue to do so. I likely will until the day I too leave this life.
There are no magick words to ease the pain and losses we sustain in this World. At times comfort in human contact helps; at other times it makes the pain sharper and brings to surface the terror of losing our control in the face of it all. How many times clients, customers, students have come to me to find themselves sobbing; without understanding why. So much suppressed grief and aching pain; and a hug will bring it all up and out. Perhaps that is a great lesson, to hold one another and just let it out. Instead, we insist we are fine until we explode or try to feel better in ways that are self-destructive.
In my life, Magick sustains me, as does Nature. This last year I spent most alone and in the wilderness. I hiked, wandered, searched. I buried my parents remains on the top of a high Rocky Mountain peak and allowed myself to search for medicinal plants and the ever-allusive wolf. I slowly tip-toed to the public, meeting new people. The Covid Pandemic happened just a year after my dad’s passing, my divorce, a best friend dying. Isolation was the new rule, and I continued that lifestyle, even embraced it, after restrictions were lifted.
I found once I followed through with my dad’s final requests and returned home to Colorado with his and my ma’s ashes; I began to breathe again. Deeper breaths, now. The short gasping, suppressed tears, aching throat, began to dissipate. I began to plan living. Not simply surviving, working, and being of service to others. I am planning a vacation to Ancestral lands; and took a two-week vacation to the Baja region of Mexico. I stepped out of my normal comfort zone. Magick is everywhere if we are open to seeing, feeling, touching, tasting, and smelling. There is beauty in change, and strength in dipping our toes in the water, and courage in our tears. There is no right way or wrong way to recover from loss. At this point, I am not certain we ever do recover.
I purchased the Wild Woman Cottage in the White Mountains of Arizona just prior to the pandemic. It is the first home that was ever mine only. The cottage and surrounding pine forest was so reminiscent of my Colorado childhood home. I was experiencing dreams at this time; fantastic dreams that gave me a deep insight into my past life experiences as well as connecting me to the Earth; the Magick of She, I call it. As I wrote poetry focusing entirely on these dreams, a dear Sister Friend began to draw the illustrations for each poem. This was organic in nature; in time we realized that we had something special, and we began looking at publishing what we were doing.
The Lost Harlots was born; and a part of our work was working through the grief we had both lived through. There was hope, pain, loss, love and all the other emotions found in human lives. I have been proud of Tanja’s Natural Magick and my work in my community. What started was truth in action, and I am ever blessed that I created this beauty and this space that now has a life of its own. The Lost Harlots and the feeling that our grief is shared just as our love and hate are shared, changed me.
Today, I find myself at a crossroads yet again. Isolation had its place; but I am ready to live again. I do not mean I am ready to work harder; or that I have found a perfect place to BE. I mean that I am willing to consider all the options. I do not have all the answers, but I will say that every moment of every day I feel my family surround me, my brother, my ma, and my dad. I grieve still; at times it paralyzes me. The idea, methinks now, is that I ride that wave without apology. I find meaning where I can, and love when I can. I say to you all facing grief, dark and black as it is…it will get easier. It will ride you, too, and sting you when you least expect it. It will cause you to think blurry thoughts and strike out in anger at a Universe so unfair. It will also bring you closer to your ancestors, and your own children and help you let go of the thoughts, feelings, and things you do not need. There is another side. One day, you will die, and those who love you will be left behind to crash in the face of your departure. Talk, love, and live for today.
Never Stop Trying.
Not everyone is honest,
Not everyone lies.
Some see a truth as a lie,
And others see lies as truth.
There are those who love
Me, but cannot love me.
Others who cannot love me,
However, find that they do.
Friends have left my life,
The true ones come back.
I cannot do everything alone,
Yet do not ask for help.
I know not to sit on pity pots,
And spend countless hours there.
I have loved passionately
And without caution or reason,
To be left alone and exalted
On a pedestal without company.
I have spent and I have saved.
Neither is particularly fulfilling.
Everyone hoards something,
Even if it is the air they breathe.
We have all failed to achieve,
And exceeded expectations.
The Tower falls but is rebuilt.
A lover’s touch is never free.
And love is rarely unconditional.
Life is not easy; it is not difficult.
My way isn’t the only way,
But it is the right way.
I will never achieve perfection.
However, can be authentic.
I fear no ghosts, no phantoms,
But live in terror of a broken heart.
I will give until I am empty,
And hold you when you cry.
I will hold myself accountable,
And the world upon my shoulders,
And then shrink into the darkness,
Until my vessel is full again.
We really don’t know what we have,
Until we lose it, again and again.
Alone in the Wilderness, I find hope.
There are worse things than aloneness.
We don’t always learn from mistakes,
But that should never stop us…