Thursday, August 19, 2010

Embracing Sadness?

Studying Memoir Under a Cieba Tree (Mayan Kapok/Tree of Life)

Oasis Moment: Dealing with Loss

Grieving doesn’t have to be a process that keeps us rooted in our thoughts of fear and sadness. For the moment we might feel despondent, but by expressing and coping with our true feelings, we face the sadness head-on. Daily Om 


The above quote comes from the Daily Om web-log,that was founded by Scott Blum author of Summer's Path and Waiting for Autumn
If you ever were curious about how people who are "spiritual but don't call themselves religious" might think, these books are a must-read. Both are incredibly imaginative, insightful and connect to experiences and thoughts I have also pondered. 

A Death in the Family

My young brother-in-law, Joel, died last week. He was still in his thirties, not always healthy but death is a shock whenever it arrives. When my father died of diabetes complications at 49, I stayed in a kind of shock for years. When my mothered was murdered at 55, it was a shock. When my niece died in a car accident at 17, I was shocked. And now this death is no exception. Age doesn't matter. I'm just shocked by the finality of death. I have trouble feeling when I first encounter the news of death. I become quiet inside and observant outside. I'm treading water out in the middle of the funerary sea. 

All the death details and surrounding dialogue feel unreal when the shocked-state is in place. I remember the words, "He's in a better place," repeatedly sounding, but I'm not so religious anymore. Besides, those words never spoke to my heart anyway. I remember the last time I saw him in the intensive care hospital ward, he had trouble breathing and couldn't talk. Just before I left, I said "I'll see you later" and he nodded affirmatively. He wanted to live. He loved life. He loved to laugh. He held no grudges and didn't complain. He was a journalist and editor who celebrated my children's triumphs in writing, bringing them a little local fame and boosting their self-confidence. I appreciate his generous and considerate heart.

Feeling grief is difficult

In Blum's books, though they are spiritual fiction, he talks about the psychological process of embodying your feelings and allowing them to be fully felt without bodily resistance. I think I have more "embodied feeling work" waiting for me when I'm ready. Encountering deep feeling is frightening. 

I think most of us cope with loss by cushioning memory with distraction.

Some of my distractions?
Reading fiction at Borders drinking Earl Gray-er Tea

Mom and daughter bonding over a homemade honey and oats facial mask
Capturing a funny shot for my Twilight fan, Miss A
Confession. I have laughed inappropriately while waiting for death to arrive. It's like a dark humor enters my body, and I forget death and grief. I hope that I don't offend anyone with my behavior. I have seen death up close when it feels far away. It's just a shock-adaptation. I remember it when it happens- a kind of coping humor. True, I also distract myself with study and focused work where I block out all thought, I think. But then I realize I'm talking about death and loss to my poor happy fresh-faced freshman students. Bummer! I also need plenty of comfort time such as bonding with family, reading fiction or about comfort food and cooking it, immersing myself in nature, and, yes, laughing.

How do you go through difficult times of loss?

The Ceiba tree rooted in life as we are while living
The ceiba tree (or kapok) in Mayan cosmology was considered to be the tree of life that connects earth to sky, or man to the divine. They left notes with requests at the base of the tree, and poured rum around it, ‘feeding’ the muse. Trish and Rob MacGreggor- authors of The Seven Secrets of Synchronicity .


Joel Villanueva Reyes
May your journey be peaceful. May your family and friends feel surrounded in love and support during this time of your passing.