How A Loved Ones Death Breaks You Apart and Puts You Back Differently (Like Kuntsugi)
THE LAST MOMENT
You walked out of my home smiling, a gorgeous silk floral Jacquard black coat flowing in the wind and your energy/aura was a little extra special that day. You approached the sidewalk to walk home on what you now regularly remind me is “our street” because I purchased a home 2-doors down from your sacred home/school/safe haven so we could live close in proximity. Let’s not forget that your magic and support were instrumental in making that home a reality!
It was curious how you captivated me in that moment as you walked down the sidewalk, I felt my heart pulling and I reluctantly called out “Don’t go yet? Would you mind coming back in for a picture? You look so beautiful in your outfit.” Smiling and holding her teacup she joyously exclaimed “Of course!” Little would I know in less than hour, the world would change forever.
You came down to share lunch and impress me with your outfit since we both love fashion. As I picked up the silk floral Jacquard black coat to help you put it on to leave, I looked at it the tag which said “Lord & Taylor”, joking I express my jealousy for such high fashion! You offered for me to try it on, I knew you had a long day so I told you “Later, we have plenty of time”. I wish I tried it on.
IN A MOMENT LIFE CHANGES & YOU CAN’T GO BACK
An hour later the Universe called me to her home. One of the greatest earlier moments of my life turned into my greatest fear as I called an ambulance. I held her hand. I told her “I got you. I promise, I got you”, she responded with “I know you do.” Those were our last words and letting go of her hand was crushing but crucial. I stayed behind so I could inform family and close friends.
The first calls were difficult but hopeful as I shared that medics thought a possible stroke and she was awake and talking as they loaded her. As people sat vigil hoping for more good news, I could feel a shift. The phone rang and I was asked “Am I alone? Please sit down”. I lost all faculties and passed the phone on. No words can describe that moment in my life. None
In a short time, I had gained stability and start making the calls to people I had promised to call if things changed. She was part of a really large community and I made a promise. I picked up the phone to make the first call, “Are you sitting down, do you have someone with you? She is not coming back. I am sorry.” Those words broke me a little more each time I said them. I deeply felt the cries, the pleading, the fear and I held tight because I could relate to the pain and would hold space. A family and community was breaking into pieces losing its Northern Light
THE DAYS AFTER, THE STRUGGLES OF DEALING WITH A LARGE COMMUNITY
When a special person in a large community passes it creates a sense of fear, chaos and confusion. Death alone does that even on a smaller level. We have to be able to meet people where they are, in their confusion, strange behaviors, struggle, breakdown – however it will unfold for them. I felt strong in being able to be that person – I get death. Meet people where they are, be kind, listen, understand but still protect her family from the nonsense.
After her death, I was the only one outside of immediate family to have contact with the family due to the overwhelm of people and requests. Surrounded by a wonderful partner and small group of elders/wise woman holding space for me, I did the work. Unfortunately, things got intense quickly and shockingly. Everyone was her best friend, knew her the longest, wanted in to get close to the family almost smothering them. People called me to ask when the house would be for sale, people started coming to the property daily and trespassing, people wanted access to her teaching, people asked for items that were not even theirs and all of this started but a few hours after she left this planet and went on for 2 weeks straight. It felt very vulture-like, intrusive, overwhelming and hurtful to all trying to deal with the details of a death. Everything seemed so untimely and my heart kept pleading with people to step back, give it time, give it space – we can eventually get there, but not now. Not hours, days after we lost a beloved soul.
When faced with moments like above, moments where I felt people overstepped or at times were extremely disrespectful, I still met each person as an individual that was grieving with grace, understanding and often a gentle request to step back. I tried to ebb and flow with the community as a way to protect the family as they were overwhelmed with so much! I tried not to let the way people treated her death, her property, her circle, her teaching etc. upset me or affect her family, but it DEEPLY disturbed me and hurt me at a soul level.
GIVING AWAY PARTS OF OURSELF IN DEATH
As we dealt with the estate items came up here and there and by the request of the family were given to the rightful owners. Each item I handed to the grieving seemed to wound me more and in a way it was healing, it just made it clearer that she was not coming back. I held hands, gave love and in my own private world I grieved for each person. Numerous visitors wanted to stop by my home to share things or gain closure. I opened my door to anyone who needed it. In those moments, I was there with them, holding hands, loving what they had to offer and willing to share moments of closure to heal their heart. When each person left, her death would dig deeper into my soul. As honored as I was to be a part of this work and would never change it, it dug deep.
WE ALL HAVE LIMITS
I did not give freely without take care of myself. I jumped into therapy twice a week, ate regularly and healthy, I slept decently, did yoga, journaled and was going through the emotions when I felt it most appropriate not to affect others negatively. I kept busy helping the family and feeling useful helped counterbalance the community pressure and my pain from the loss. I was riding the wave decently and had it under control.
Exactly 7 days after I lost my High Priestess, the love of my life was taken to the ER for stress relatedinjuries of the heart. He had hit his limit supporting me while I dealt with the deep emptions of loss and a very emotional and at many times disruptive community= Even after he returned home and people knew he just got out of hospital, people still kept pushing. We tried to hold steady and heal.
Yesterday, a week after him, I ended up in the ER myself. Over the last two weeks it was mounting and no matter how much selfcare or self-awareness, this brokenhearted warrior could not combat the overwhelming onslaught on nonsense and disrespect for the dead that had become a daily part of our world and would not stop. I don’t feel weak or ashamed and feel stronger for getting right back up after being knocked down in such a vulnerable states. I will hold space for myself, family and loved ones. As for anyone else, the last two weeks I was there for over 50 plus people, I must now be here for me. Thank you for letting me hold space for you all in your time of need.
My friend and I said Good Morning and Goodnight daily, and we saw each other at least once a day. It was a joke between us “if we went 5 hours without talking” something must be off. I often look at my iPhone hoping for a call or waiting for hers, but I am scared if I call it will sting my heart hearing the disconnected message and it will ring in my ears for eternity. I would rather hold her voice in my mind and heart. I still have voicemails – saved.
Funny were the moments we dressed similar and with our extreme variation in size we still shared clothing. How that worked, we could never figure out? When we walked out in public, if you knew her she did not draw attention as much for her disease, but more for her “Here comes the queen” way she walked anywhere. She was tiny and mighty. She commanded her space with grace gentleness. I followed along on her left side so she could see me better while wearing my not so forgiving medical mask – we were quite the pair!
This year I had the best Birthday (Dec 5th) and best Christmas in over 20 years because of her. The picture below shows that magical moment.
Each day I look out my window to her home, her van is missing. I feel breathless as I watch the trees by her house blow in the wind signaling her exit. At night, the sparkly lights that decorated her home are gone and the blackness make me feel week and empty inside as I sit on my back porch. Daily as I drive past her home on “our street”, I send love and gratitude to Grandmother Willow and my friend’s lingering energy
The cushion she sat on in my car so she can see over my dash, will remain there – she will always be my copilot. My heart is heavy as a look next to me and notice again and again, she has gone missing and will never return in physical form. It confuses me. It was so quick. I feel gutted.
IN THE GIFT OF BELIEF
As a natural skeptic with a need to research various topics looking for facts, I still had the general belief that there was something bigger than us – even if I question it or there are no hard facts. The day she died that all changed, I now have zero doubt that there is something bigger then all of us and that the strings are woven so tightly that there is no way we are not interconnected, even if no one believes it.
We talked about my doubt and she always told me “She just knew. One day I would too”, and today is that day. I don’t doubt the vastness of this magical planet. I got my last goodbye, I took the last image and I held her hand. There is not a single more honorable moment in my life than that. And a warrior I will always be, to protect you, to protect the ones I love and myself. Even in our perceived weaknesses, my High Priestess taught me how mighty I could be.
As broken as I felt – the gift of love from my partner, the solid group of wise woman and being able to say goodbye to my loved one in a very intimate, untimely and unusual fashion way has me feeling like a human representation of “Kintsugi“.
Kintsugi, also known as Kintsukuroi, is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.
I am whole and home in a whole new way. The departed only wish you to become a better version of you. Shine on for them. I plan on it.
She went back to the Stars and the Moon.
My Mentor, My Person, My High Priestess.