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Grief

Grief, Guest Posts, healing

Nothing Fancy

August 25, 2016
grandmother

By Sheryl Rivett

I watch, face pressed to glass, as the rolling hills of Miller county Missouri give way to breathtaking glimpses of sandstone river bluffs. A cloying sweetness wafts through my parents’ open windows, and I watch my mother hold her hair back from the wind, her manicured fingers shiny and smooth. I feel as if we, my mother and father and brother and I, are adventurers traveling the world in search of twilight sunsets and golden apricots, not the mere four hundred miles that lie between our home in Northern Illinois and my great-grandmother’s home in Missouri.

Addie greets us, rooted in St. Elizabeth like an ancient tree with hardy, sprawling branches.

We relax into small town life. Days inch by in the way that summer days pass. I play on the lawn in front of Addie’s clapboard house, while my father packs and lights and cleans his pipe and talks to farmers and neighbors passing by. The dolls I assemble on the lawn were once my mother’s, Addie their caretaker. She keeps them tucked away in a cedar chest, only unpacking the dolls for a special occasion. She lifts the top of the chest to reveal their shining faces, excitement lighting her own face. There is a magic in playing with the dolls my mother’s own hands once tended, a magic that opens a portal to her girlhood, and it’s as if I am playing side by side with another little girl, a girl with perfectly curled hair and wide, questioning eyes. The little girl frozen in the black and white photographs in an album that sits on a bookshelf back home.

2008. In the middle of the night, chest pressure and a feeling of suffocation. My diaphragm is locked tight. I leave my four daughters in the middle of the night when I ride by ambulance to the local hospital. The swoosh of the blood pressure cuff, the cool oxygen in my nose, blood snaking through the plastic tube. An xray. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts, Young Voices

Losing the Grandmother I Didn’t Know I Loved

August 10, 2016
grandmother

Note from Jen Pastiloff, founder of The Manifest-Station. This is part of our Young Voices Series. We are always looking for more writing from YOU! Make sure you follow us on instagram at @GirlPowerYouAreEnough and on Facebook here.

By Reyann Shah

We have always called her “Moti Mummy” and for as long as I can remember I’ve known exactly why. “Moti” is the feminine word in our language for “big” or old”.

Hearing my grandmother referred to as “Moti Mummy” always did well to remind me that she was the eldest woman in our family’s house in India. It garnered a certain amount of respect in that way. But it also had a way of making me giggle when I heard it. It’s the dumb humor that comes with alliteration. It was fun to say and it made me smile.

Hearing it from Mama today didn’t have the same funny effect that it usually did.

At 10:48 AM:

“Moti Mummy is very sick right now. She wants to leave and not go on anymore.”

At 5:20 PM:

“Moti Mummy passed away.”

As terrible as the initial news was, I had what at the time I thought was the benefit of simply reading the former in a text message. I didn’t have to bear the pain of seeing Mama’s crying face as the horrible news sank into both of our hearts. But it’s interesting. Upon getting home from work, I endured the latter in person with no keyboard or smartphone screen to protect me from seeing the pain in Mama’s eyes, and yet I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The reason was simple. With seeing Mama’s crying face, it was the opportunity to hold her in my arms that followed.

It was the opportunity to let her emotions pour out onto me without a shield or a boundary in sight. It was one of the very first truly authentic moments between us.

“I never got to be as close to her as I wanted to be,” I told others-through my tears- about my grandmother for most of today. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts

Bone Structure

August 5, 2016
mother

By Susanne Paola

She would tilt her face up to me.

And close her eyes. Like a cup brimming, steadying its restless surface. She didn’t easily give any part of herself to anyone else, to touch, to alter.

Her head tilted the same way laying out at the funeral home, before they shipped her to the crematorium. When did I cry? Only when I learned the fire did not burn her to ash but to bone, bones then ground in a human-grade grinder.

When my mother tilted her face to me I had my things, my colors, my brushes, laid out. We would probably be in the bathroom, her seated on the closed toilet. I started with the lips. Once the lips had color, the architecture of the face showed itself, and other shades came into focus. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts

Visitation

August 1, 2016
parents

By Donna Steiner

Yesterday at dusk a deer walked through the yard.  For about two seconds, we made eye contact.  The deer stood still, body facing away, head turned toward me.  “Be careful, baby,” I said, quietly.  She had just crossed the road, and I was referring to cars, and hunters.

This morning I went outside and scanned the vicinity, visually tracing her path.  I live on a ridge, which means she’d climbed uphill.  She may have begun at the base of the ridge, where a stream carves through stands of trees and knots of underbrush.  I’ve seen other deer down there, sipping clean water or, having heard the retort of a hunter’s gun, standing stock-still.  Hunters aren’t permitted in the area, but posted bans are rarely enforced.  One day I watched a deer stand, unmoving, for over 30 minutes.  I needed binoculars to see to the base of the ridge.  Every ten minutes or so I’d go back and check – the deer did not relent.  Her life depended on her stillness – if she moved, she’d be shot.

I’ve lived in several locales that were appealing to hunters, and there were times I’ve worried that I would inadvertently become a target.  When I wander into the yard, I try to remember to wear something bright and colorful.  More often than not, however, I realize upon returning indoors that I’ve been clad in earth tones, moving slowly, potentially mistakable for a creature not human.  Generally, when I hear gunshots, I stay inside. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts

I Am My Father’s Daughter

July 31, 2016
grief

By Chamisa Wheeler

It’s OK, I tell my 37 year old self…

It’s really not.

I have not seen my father in 27 years until 2 days ago.

2 days ago,  I said Hello and a final Goodbye, in person, as my dad is lying in a bed, dying in a nursing home, after a short visit of 25 minutes and it was apparent it was time to leave…I said “I love you Dad”with a kiss on his forehead and walked out of the room.

Excuse my french, but what the fuck do you do with that?

Backtrack to last week:

I got THE phone call last week. The ONE call, I knew would happen at some point, for many years now, knowing it would come, and still not knowing what the hell I would with it when it came.

I had  thoughts before…had visions of what could happen. I saw myself driving with my brothers to go see our dad…see the town he lived in, called home. Hoped it wouldn’t be at his funeral, but in my thoughts, it was possible…Or maybe we wouldn’t go at all.

Had many years to think about this moment and I thought I had prepared myself. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts

My Mother’s Death: Is This Real Or Just A Dream?

July 29, 2016
death

By Janine Canty

Dear Mom,

You’ve been gone over four months. It feels like a finger snap. It feels like forever. A silent scream in my throat. Your weight in my belly. All 79 pounds. Many aspects of your death don’t feel real to me. The best part of the day is always that nano second before I open my eyes. That second, where you are still alive
somewhere in the world. That second I am not a motherless child. Then I remember and it doesn’t feel real. So I pull out the phone and stare at the final picture of you. The one I took in that ICU room. Where we fought over a cool ranch Dorito. Where we bed danced. Where I wished to swallow your freckles. Your skin and your hands. So that I could keep you here. Then my cheeks run wet with missing you. I reach up angrily to wipe them dry. I feel the contour of my cheekbones. Your cheekbones. You are gone and breathing on my face at the same time.

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Every morning I promise myself I will delete this picture. It’s an awful picture, really. You are dozing with your mouth open. Pain visible on your forehead. Death laying itself on your chest and legs. I want to put a Salem Menthol in your fingers. Purple sandals on your feet. Red lipstick on your mouth. I want to lay beside you and feel you breathe. I want to hear your heartbeat. I want to fit in your lap. I want you to open your eyes and talk to me . I’ll listen forever and not roll my eyes, I promise. Every morning I stare at this awful picture of you. Wishing for everything I can’t have. My thumb trembles above the delete button. Asia screams for a bowl of cat chow and a hug. She’s all soft fur and green eyes. People don’t die in her world. I sit on the side of the bed. Blue comforter bunched in my lap. Your death in my hand. The argument for deleting it in my head. Asia on my toes. You are all tubes and needles and blood clots. If I look closely, I can see the corner of a catheter bag. Amber urine. Every morning my thumb moves downward and my mind screams: No. To delete the picture, would be to delete you. So I stand up. Wipe my tears on Asia’s purring fur. Feel her breathe. Listen to her heartbeat. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts

Meditation and The Space to Grieve

July 21, 2016
meditation

By Mary-Frances Makichen

I’ve been meditating for a long time now—something like 20+ years. There are some days meditation is amazing, even transcendent.  I’ll come away from it feeling completely connected to the larger universe that surrounds me. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth and I’m left with a distinct feeling of unrest and irritation. Either way I keep meditating. I sit on a cushion in front of my meditation space and I listen to the sound of my breath—the inhale and exhale of that one moment in time.

Over six years ago tragedy struck and my nonsmoking husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. There is no Stage 5. He died 13 months later after a brave battle, radiation, chemotherapy and two stints in the hospital. He was a meditation teacher, intuitive and philosopher. Meditation was an important part of both of our lives.

His death was devastating for me. I lost my best friend, fellow traveler, lover and husband. The hole in my life was so big that I wasn’t sure it could ever be closed, patched or bridged. After he died, I was desperate to understand why this had happened and to find some kind of solace. It seemed logical that shortly after his death I should start meditating again. I hoped that meditation would help me deal with the grief and stress that filled my world then. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts, Pets

Blood And Socks

June 28, 2016
dog

By Kate Abbott

I don’t want to take my socks off.  I have been wearing them since Friday morning. I put them on and they made me smile. They are striped, purple and white, knee high compression socks.  They matched with the t-shirt and running shoes I chose to wear and I even cuffed my jeans so they would show.  They made me smile.

I put the socks on after my run, a run where my imagination took me to a place where you and I were older and greyer and riding in my car with the light streaming in through the sun roof.

Now it is Sunday afternoon. There is a spot of your blood on the top of the left sock. I had put these socks on a few minutes before I knelt down next to your body, shiny black coat still warm with your life, glowing in the bright sunlight. I kissed your face, your silky ears as I assured the guilt stricken man who hit you with his car that it wasn’t his fault. I thanked the woman with tears in her eyes for being with you when you took your last breath, before I could reach you, as I ran frantically through the woods to find you.  I looked into your amber eyes, eyes that saw straight into my essence.  But the calm was gone. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts, Young Voices

That Is Enough – Living With Grief

June 15, 2016
grief

Note from Jen Pastiloff, founder of The Manifest-Station. This is part of our Young Voices Series for Girl Power: You Are Enough. We are always looking for more writing from YOU! Make sure you follow us on instagram at @GirlPowerYouAreEnough and on Facebook here.

By Anna Schoener

My hands were frozen in what can only be described as claws, my face contorted in an expression I didn’t know possible, and my body, from the hips down, had gone completely numb.

I knew two things: I didn’t want to keep going, to keep breathing. And I knew that the only way to survive, was to continue doing so.

Ÿ ***

When I was five years old, my mom was attacked and killed by a mountain lion. She was out on the running trails and never came home.

As a five-year-old, this was my first experience of death. My parents hadn’t needed to explain death to me before that point, so I knew virtually nothing about it. When we received the news, I cried and then I wanted to play a game. I went, almost immediately, back to my five-year-old self. It wasn’t until a couple years later, lying in bed one night; I realized for the first time that I would never see my mom again.

It took another twelve years or so before I found it in me to grieve for her. It started during a Reiki session, where for the briefest of moments, I found myself in the forest where her ashes were spread, completely at peace. It was the first time my soul felt that kind of solace since I was a small child, and as I left the Reiki session that day, I knew my life was about to change, I knew I was about to change.

I dove in. I did everything you’re supposed to do when grieving; I meditated, practiced yoga, wrote, cried, felt. But it wasn’t enough. The wounds I held had been left untreated for so long, it was like they’d been infected. Infected with sorrow, hopelessness, and self-hatred.

So I left. I left behind my hometown, my friends, and family and I went to New Zealand. For no reason at all, except that it was very far away. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts

Driving Lessons

June 5, 2016
grief

By Erin Khar

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear. Objects may include anger, confusion, love, envy, longing, loneliness, lust, fear, apathy, delusion. And, then, grief.

Sometimes, you are moving along in your life, and everything is great, and then you trip over something unavoidable.

Grief is a slippery thing. And then it’s not.

It wears many masks. It shows up, knocking loudly, then sulking in the corner. It disguises itself as anxiety and anger and energy and apathy.  Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts

Can You Have A Birthday If You Are Dead?

May 6, 2016
grief

By Leah Sugarman

Do you still have a birthday if you are dead?

Facebook reminds me all day that today is my mother’s birthday. 

My youngest son has special needs and is obsessed with birthdays. When he asks this morning, as he does most days, if it is anyone’s birthday I consider lying and saying no.  But I am a bad liar and almost always get caught so I tell him it is grandma’s.  But then I remind him that she’s all gone.  He declares that we should sing happy birthday to her.  I wonder if he maybe understands things much better than the rest of us.

I am supposed to light a Yarzheit candle on the anniversary of her death but do not have a clue how to mark her birthday.

Later in the day, we have dropped his sister and friend at dance class and are driving home.  He casually comments from the back of the car that it is grandma’s birthday but she is dead.  And then tells me that my grandmother, Evelyn, her mother, will celebrate her birthday with her.  If only Jews had a heaven, my love. Continue Reading…

death, Grief, Guest Posts

A Choice of Wood

April 25, 2016
death

By Whitney Fleming

“I can’t do it. I can’t go into the room with all the caskets. I can’t do it again,” she told me.

“It’s okay, Mom. I’ll take care of everything,” I stated easily, as I knew that my father wanted to be cremated, which reduced the decision-making burden. Although I was the youngest in my family, the responsibility would be mine. My brother and sister had their children to manage, and I was the most involved when it came to my dad’s care.

“Just do what you think is right. I just need you to take care of it.”

My mom wasn’t much older than I was when she buried her own mother, along with three teenage siblings. They died in a fire started from bad electrical wiring in their dilapidated Ohio farm house. As the oldest of eight, she managed the burial arrangements, and selected the caskets for her teenage brothers and sister. The act of selecting small coffins for young people yet to reach their prime crushed her to the core. It was a weight she carried around with her each day.

She was the strongest woman I knew, but even she had her limits. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts

The Long Goodbye

April 18, 2016
father

By Leanne Chapman

My father died today.  Or at least he was my father once. I hadn’t seen him in almost 25 years.

People told me I’d regret it if I didn’t go and see him when he got sick. But I don’t regret it. They said I’d suffer if I left things undone, but it feels done. Our time together ended decades ago.

My father was not the primary abuser of my childhood, he was the enabler. I’m grateful to him for buying me a bicycle and teaching me to ride it, for encouraging my swimming and walking beside me as I swam my first 50 metre lap, for indulging my love of animals and the outdoors.

If he’d been married to someone else, he probably still would not have been a great father, but he would’ve been a father.

He didn’t want children, and when they found out they were both infertile, he was content to remain childless. My mother pushed for adoption, and he decided after my arrival that parenting wasn’t so bad after all.

My mother shifted the opposite way. If I’d been a puppy she would’ve returned me. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts

The Art Of Missing

March 11, 2016
grief

By Eve Phillips

“I’m not sure we should date, but regardless, I want to be friends.  Honestly though, I miss you when we don’t talk,” he rambles uncomfortably, after I press him to consider what he really wants.

I’m 32; I’m a widow who is dating again. As a result, I frequently want to escape the agony of another awkward dinner with a man who has yet to understand that when you meet the right person, “You know.”

There is no Well, maybe… or Perhaps if something better doesn’t come along… You just know, and you see your future life unfolding with that person supporting you.

In this conversation, I desperately want to unleash that honesty to an unfiltered degree by saying, “Please just go fuck yourself. You have no concept of missing a person. I know because I own that feeling.”

However, he is a good man, and we have both been hypnotized by the political correctness that permeates white-collar professions. So, my contributions to the conversation are punctuated by “I understand.” and “I know where you’re coming from.”

I avoid conflict in the feminine fashion, and internalize resentment. As kind as this man is, the bottom line is that he is 45, and his family members are all alive and well. I’m 13 years his junior and feel lost in a world of missing those who have left me behind.

I once believed that my emotions would develop their own olfactory system and become immune to the feelings of longing and loss. Missing was my birthright—growing up as a child longing for a mother who died of cancer in her thirties.

In fact, I owned tragedy—losing my husband in a pointless war eighteen months after our marriage. Continue Reading…