4 years of grief and peace

As this 4 year anniversary of my daughter Elizabeth’s death was approaching, I could feel the shimmering of grief in and around everything. I’ve been getting better and better at learning how to take care of myself, and I realized a few days ago that doing a ritual for Elizabeth with flowers and ashes on Haleakala would bring me some peace.

The past couple of years I’ve been with my mom and sister and good friend (Elizabeth’s godmother), and it was hard to be far away from each of them and my partner. Talking and texting with them helped, as did the many messages I received from family and friends  throughout the day – I love knowing that others are thinking of Elizabeth, missing her, remembering her, honoring her…

I started the day moving slowly, putting on clothes I think Elizabeth would have liked (a dress! she always wanted me to wear dresses…), earrings of hers made of butterfly wings, a pearl necklace she made for me…And then bought and ate food I thought she’d have liked, enjoying these embodied pleasures for and with her.

I had envisioned driving up the nearby mountain, Haleakala, as I know she loved being on Mt Lemmon in Tucson, and this feels very similar. One of the things Elizabeth had really wanted after she was diagnosed with cancer was to come back to spend time in Hawaii, which she didn’t get to do. Her ashes hadn’t been placed anywhere here yet, so today felt like the right time.

As I opened the basket on the altar that holds her ashes, and scooped some into a blue jar, I felt something hard and metallic. I reached in and found a dime!  I remember placing a few things with her to be cremated, like flowers, her tattered baby blanket and bunny, but don’t remember any of us putting money in with her…Perhaps someone who was there will remind me, or perhaps it was John, our dear friend who died of cancer a few months ago. I seem to hear him laughing now…

I waited until close to sunset and began my drive up the mountain, quickly enveloped in fog that became clouds. I love driving into the mist and seeing the world transform into another realm…I could feel her with me, listening and watching as she showed me how she can be with each of the people she loves, all at the same time. She showed me again that she helps people as they’re making their transition, especially when they’re young and when they are in shock and unprepared, that she acts as a guide of sorts. Still with her same kindness and also lack of patience or bullshit. Being very real and direct about where they are and what is happening.

I drove without knowing where I would stop to place her ashes and the beautiful lei made of tuberose and small pink roses, one of her favorite flowers. I asked her for guidance and also a sign that she was with me. Immediately I saw a gorgeous pheasant, and ended up seeing a total of four of these gorgeous birds on the mountain.

After driving only a half hour,  I was above the clouds and the light was incredible as the sun was close to setting. I was led to a place to pull over and found an easy path through the grass and then a beautiful rock. I placed the lei around the rock and spread some of her ashes in a circle around and on top of the rock. I spent a while meditating and taking photographs, feeling grateful for the peace I felt, the extraordinary beauty around me . I kept thinking I needed to leave, but realizing I had no where to go.  Being present, appreciating this peace and beauty was where I needed to be.

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dime from the ashes

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hiding pheasant

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21 thoughts on “4 years of grief and peace

  1. what an absolutely lovely way to celebrate elizabeth’s life and to mourn her death. it’s amazing what those special people who are gone can teach us who are still here missing them, isn’t it? hugs –

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  2. Sending a thought on your behalf to Elizabeth.
    There’s something very peaceful about making an outdoor shrine. After Dan died my youngest who was11 at the time brought me across to a field near us where for months she been bringing notes and flowers and stones to Daniel. It was lovely.
    Thinking of you around this time and your love and loss.

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  3. Thank you, Lucia, for this, for the pictures as well as the story that goes with them. I’d seen a psychic about a year after Philip died – she told me he was helping young people make the transition, that he would help me, too. I hope he and Elizabeth are working together.

    As I always tell you, I feel such love and tenderness for both of you. There’s something about Elizabeth…when you write about her, I feel her around me, like she’s watching me, trying to steady me. On the one hand it seems so odd, since I’ve not met either of you. But that’s “mind” stuff, trying to get in the way. Because my heart says otherwise. That you’ve both crossed my path is no accident. And I am grateful for it.

    Namaste, dear Lucia; namaste.

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  4. I am so grateful for you and Philip being in my life as well. I understand about the mind having its ideas, and the heart does seem worth listening to! I am not surprised that she’s around you when you read about her, totally makes sense somehow. I love the idea that she and Philip are working together! It seems likely since they brought us together…

    Much love to you Denise.

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  5. Oh beautiful lady…. I stumbled upon your and Elizabeth’s journey by accident just days after I lost my husband to cancer. I have learned more from you and her, than anyone during my grieving, about my own journey, healing, love and peace. And that my husband isn’t far away from me. God bless you. Today and always. Sending love and hugs from Canada.

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    • Dear Yvonne, thank you so much for writing! I’m so sorry about the loss of your beloved husband. It means so much to know that Elizabeth’s and my journey has helped you in these ways! Deeply grateful to be connected and for your presence here. love, Lucia

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