The Enormity of it All
Yesterday I was having lunch with a dear friend, who is very insightful and intuitive, and has two sons the same ages as my two daughters. She asked me, with concern, for the second time in two weeks, if I was really taking the time and space to allow for the enormity of what has happened. It felt like she was asking if I truly grasped the magnitude of what has happened to me, my daughter’s death a year ago. I didn’t really know how to answer her and I still don’t.
On the one hand, I started to feel like maybe I wasn’t doing this grieving “right”, which I’m sure was far from what she intended. As a mother, it’s such a familiar place to go: if this looks different, or is not what is expected by others, maybe I’m not doing it right. Though much of my mothering has looked “different” (as is how I live my life), and I can see things I could have done better, overall I’ve mothered the best way I know how, following my heart and modeling that for my daughters. Still, it’s easy to be vulnerable as a parent, to question if we’re doing the right thing. Guilt seems to come along with parenthood and the enormous responsibilities we’re honored with in bringing someone into the world.
What I said to my friend is that I feel like my main work now is healing through grieving, and taking the time to heal in whatever ways I can. For me, this means a lot of time alone, listening to music where I often receive messages from Elizabeth, meditating, reading, watching tv on netflix for hours when I need to (all of “Orange is the New Black” during 2 really hard days). It means getting acupuncture and bodywork, talking to good friends, asking family to be around for difficult times, like birthdays and anniversaries, asking for support…It means saying no to many invitations and events, listening deeply to what I really want to do, and leaving when I’m tired and feeling full. It means spending time with my younger daughter, visiting her more often, connecting with her and wanting to be closer with her.
It also means seeing clients, offering the healing work I do, which I love – it helps me to focus on someone else, listening with my full presence, feeling like I’m in service and contributing, and it makes me feel better as I receive the Reiki as it flows through me to my client. Teaching Reiki and facilitating healing circles and retreats also brings me joy, and is another way that I feel Elizabeth’s presence, sitting with me and supporting me, as I ask to be the clearest channel for the teachings to flow through. It also allows me the opportunity to share some of what I learned from Elizabeth about living and dying with grace, which helps bring some greater meaning to this intense journey of transformation.
It means writing, combing through my emails and journals, Elizabeth’s writing and photographs, and sharing these with all of you, listening for the guidance about the timing. Receiving feedback about how this affects you has been an amazing balm for my heart.
But, am I able to absorb the enormity of what has happened, that my adored and beloved and challenging and worrisome and beautiful and smart and difficult and adoring and creative and wise 22 year old first-born daughter has died? No, absolutely not. Do I cry as I write these words? yes. There is no way I could absorb or take in all of this, even one year later it continues to seep in, little by little, day by day, and I do my best to stay present to it, to grief, stay present to Elizabeth’s spirit, stay present to my living daughter, Julianna, stay present to my partner, and mostly, stay present to my heart.