Posted in Meditative Monday

Mindful grief

I wore a brightly-flowered skirt and matching blouse to my father’s funeral. Immediately upon entering the church I knew I was inappropriately dressed. I’d forgotten funeral etiquette. After giving birth two months earlier, I had nothing to wear that fit, and I’d gone shopping in a haze.

When I tell this story, most friends usually try to comfort me and say I chose something that would make my dad smile. Actually, if he was looking down, Dad would have thought my skirt terribly unbefitting. Yet there I was, in front of the whole congregation competing with the alter gladiolas.

I made no apologies, and to this day chuckle at the misstep. I was young, consumed by grief, drunken with hormones, and a mother of three. If anyone was allowed the mistake, surely I was.

There may be five common stages, but we all move through grief at our own pace and in our own way. There’s no right way to grieve. It’s a personal thing. Even when faith, culture and etiquette dictate one right way to mourn, it’s crucial we show self-compassion and honor whatever it is that helps us to heal.

By accommodating our own process, it affords us the ability to do the same for others. It may be easier for us to feel empathy for the one who cries than for the one who didn’t attend the funeral. Yet, it’s entirely possible that the one who didn’t show feels such pain they can’t leave the house. It’s possible the one who is angry has hurtful regrets. It’s possible the one who makes jokes is afraid.

We can’t know what stories are deeply buried in another’s heart. Sometimes we scarcely know what’s in our own.

May we feel deeply for all affected by death and open our hearts to love and compassion for their healing.

Peace . . .
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Posted in Lore

Lay no flowers where I die

It is not uncommon to see, as one travels, monuments of crosses and flowers where loved ones have met their death.  They stand as a solemn reminder to slow down, stay wary, and buckle up.  Perhaps placed there in hopes the dead were still near.  They are displays of love lost, shackled memories, grief.

 

English: Wild Flowers in the Rape Field, near ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With all due respect to the dead and their grieving, when I am gone, please lay no flowers where I die.  I don’t want silk or plastic flowers, or cut flowers that die and only remind you that I, too, am dead.  Place flowers where I lived.  Scatter seeds along the bike trail, at the dog park.  Plant a perennial in your garden to remind you and make you smile.  Plant a tree that will outlive us all!

 

Throw seeds out a window and let them grow like Jack’s mother with their beanstalk in the clouds.  Instead of memorial pamphlets that get saved in a box or recycled at the curb, pass out seed packets.  Let the world grow after I cease to do so.

 

Please don’t remember the date of my death.  Remember the days I lived.  Remember the date I came into this world as a screaming, writhing newborn, desperate to clench life in my tiny fists.  Remember the things that brought meaning to me — laughter, beauty, kindness.

 

English: Cut Flowers - Eden Project Pretty sha...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

See me in the tiny things around you.  I’ll not be in the place that I died — the hospital bed, the roadside — I’ll be there inside you.  In the things that make you smile — a laughing baby, a bumblebee , the sun on your face.

 

And you’ll find me in your darkest hour.  When you need comfort, solitude, a hug, wait for me quietly.  I’ll be there as sure as those who left before me are there when I need them.

 

When you find these places, scatter seeds.  Plant them in remembrance, in honor, in joy, but never in sadness.

 

Peace . . .