We are left behind to invent a life no longer with us.
Death sparks our creative resources.
Death teaches us to live.
From Death: An Anthology of Ancient Texts, Songs, Prayers, and Stories edited by David Meltzer
I feel as though my own writing has taken a break. This is my attempt to get past it. I’ve been very quiet inside, conversing with my significant other in writing and in speaking to him aloud, sometimes asking for his advice, talking about the day with him, keeping him updated on what’s going on—knowing that in some way he hears me and can only respond through small signs or by just my feeling and sensing his presence. He has crossed into the other realm. It has been a bit over a month now since his passing.
Some books say that I should get used to saying that he is dead, so that I can face the reality of it. What rings most true for me is what Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh says in his book, “No Death, No Fear: Comforting Wisdom for Life.” He says:
The Buddha said that when conditions are sufficient you manifest yourself. When conditions are no longer sufficient, you stop the manifestation in order to manifest in other forms, with other conditions. (72).
Death is one of those words that doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Most people don’t like to talk about it until it happens, and even when it does happen, it can cause a lot of confusion. Everyone handles the grieving process in their own personal way. Death can leave one feeling lost for a time, left to make sense of, to let go of, to rebuild from—to continue living.
Nature has taken on a new level of meaning for me because now, not only do I have my usual connection to nature and sense my grandmothers’ presence and other family members, but now I look to nature to communicate with my dearly beloved. I also feel deeply that he lives on in me, through me and that is also quite comforting.
Nature is usually my first guide, but when I face a life changing experience such as this one, I try to look to as many sources as possible to help me view my experience in the widest breath—to reach a wide variety of ways of dealing with life, with death. I had my Tarot cards read a few weeks back and also revisited my astrological chart with a counseling astrologer to revisit my chart and see if anything in particular stood out for the coming year. The last time I met with her was April 2004.
I know that nothing in life is permanent and I have tried to keep this at the forefront of my mind for many years, as well as trying to practice non-attachment, but when death visits, it really puts one to the test. The emotional void takes hold, balance eventually regained.
I’m not writing this to be a sad blog, rather one where I can reflect and speak, without speaking too much about the personal out of respect for my significant other. I’m using this space as a way of bringing my reality to the page. He had such a wonderful and unique sense of humor that it keeps me light at times when I imagine how he would have tried to make me laugh even when I didn’t want to. Of course I’ve had plenty of crying, other emotions, and going in circles. I know that the myriad emotional ups and downs will subside.
The impact of death leaves a person changed for life. With self-care and nurture; processing, grieving, talking, reaching out, being with family, friends—and other ways that work for each individual—the way becomes more clear and life begins anew.
Thank goodness for memories and pictures.
Afterthought: I’ve always been curious about death because it always seemed near. My first experience was with my pet cat, Cicero, followed by my dog Kyo, and then other pets. And then my mother, father, uncles, grandfather, grandmother. My grandmother was open about it and she told me when she knew hers was nearing. I felt grateful that she sensed it and was able to tell me.
I know there is so much literature out there on death and grieving. Two books that I found very helpful were:
The Courage to Grieve: Creative Living, Recovery, & Growth through Grief ~ Judy Tatelbaum
Grieving: A Beginner’s Guide ~ Jerusha Hull McCormack