I’m disappointed in myself. It took only 7 days (into my 30 day #hometown writing project) to forget why I was doing this in the first place.
I started worrying about whether my writing would be interesting for others to read. I questioned the structure and thought I should get to the interesting parts sooner. I completely forgot who I am writing this for – my kids. So I want to give it another go and write this for you, Tate, Thatcher, and Charlie. It may seem a little deep for toddlers, I totally get that. I just hope that it’s something you can read when you’re older.
Here it goes…
Our family grieves loss differently.
We don’t often have funerals and graveside services for others. We don’t visit plots regularly with flowers. Most of our loved ones have been cremated, with ashes scattered in meaningful places to them. Clearwater Lake (Auntie Carolyn and Aunt Bev). Trout Lake (Auntie Lyd, Dustin, and Dillon). On the trapline (Grandma Lainie and Grandpa Pud).
What funerals and graveside services seem to offer is a sense of closure. A shared experience where people can express their emotions and say goodbye. The way our family grieves is probably why we carry sadness for a long time. Well I do, anyways.
I hope that by the time you experience death, we have a better system worked out for you – one where we acknowledge that death happens as a part of life; where we are okay with feeling sadness with others; and where we talk about those who are gone as a part of our everyday life.
These are all pieces that I hope to learn myself and then in turn, share and model it for you. I’m pretty good at trying to avoid difficult emotions and move forward. It’s hasn’t worked out that well for me.
I wanted to show you this drawing I came across recently from @thejarofsalt (and Cherie’s description). It’s a healthy way to see grief and loss.
Imagine that you are this bookshelf and grief were this thick, heavy and permanent book sitting in it. Over time, that book doesn’t change in shape or size. It just stays there and becomes a part of you. As the days and years pass, your library grows around it as everything you add to the shelf becomes another chapter and dimension in your life. The grief, even if you choose to gloss over it, is an indelible presence juxtaposed with the growing collection of things.
The spine might fade in the sunlight, yellowing pages will fall out, and its cover will definitely gather dust, but our grief is a book whose pages we can flip through and go back to when we feel compelled to. Without changing in weight, significance or meaning, it shall always and simply be another facet of our existence and one of many stories in our constantly changing lives.
Cultures that mourn a loved one for a set number of days might be onto something. Here’s to coming up with our own process that will make death feel like a healthy part of life.