Sunday, September 18, 2016

Surviving Year Two: Week 6

Bauhaus Moon Goddess

This is Week 6 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

Last night I went to my friend's Bauhaus-themed, 50th Birthday Party. It was a magical evening of amazing costumes, a lamplit garden, good friends and giggles. I had lots of ideas for costumes, but ended up needing to wear my Moon Priestess Self on the outside, for all to see.

I met many people last night, including a person who reads this blog. She said she felt "star-struck" by meeting me. I'm always stunned when I find out people read this blog and even more amazed when they like it. Blogging these days is like shouting down a long, dark well — it's startling when a voice calls back to you, from the depths. It was a wonderful reminder that this part of my life is precious. I need to keep doing this project and it's extra sweet and magical to meet new friends who appreciate my words and images. Thank you to all of you reading this right now. I'm so glad you are here.

I also sat by the fire with a friend who has recently lost his mother and is living with his grief. We cried and held each other as we talked about strategies to survive. Being with my brothers and sisters in grief is so healing and important for me. We live in the depths and while we are all hurting so deeply, we can keep each other afloat because we are surviving together. Those that truly understand this level of grief can really see me in a way that others cannot — just as I can bear deep witness to them — and that connection is so powerful and so healing for me.

Testing Out Googly Eye Gluing Techniques with my Feline Assistant

Working on my costume ideas this week, made me think of my husband so much. He loved crafting costumes and he always loved collaborating with me on new ideas and new concepts. As my friend whose birthday it was said, "imagine what Justin would have made for this night!" and it's true, he would have crafted something incredible for his 6'9" frame to wear. It felt so lonely, crafting without him, but I was also able to slip into that solo, spiritual crafting space that I so coveted when he was alive. I think my final costume choice reflects that space. I really need my priestess energy right now. The Moon Goddesses know deeply of death, of widowhood, of endings. They also know that the Moon is reborn every lunar cycle — life and death, forever in a dance with each other.

I am a Solo Priestess now. My Fellow Magic Priest has transformed into energy, while I am left on this earth to continue on. Last night, I felt him flitting around the lit lanterns in the garden. I felt his excitement at someone's elaborate and beautiful costume, imagining him asking lots of questions about how they made it, taking mental notes so that he could go home and try it himself. I felt him laughing at my joy — happy that I made it out of the house and am surrounded by friends.

I am grateful for nights like these. I hope there are many more to come.

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Surviving Year Two: Week 5

Confused Mermaid

This is Week 5 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

Chaotic confusion. Divine moments. Upside-down world. This is what Week 5 of my second year as a widow has felt like. My dark four-day weekend of the soul last week was bad enough for me to ask for help. A kind friend gifted me with some remote psychic healing work, which will happen later today. I am desperate for healing. 

A friend is having a Bauhaus-inspired(!) 50th birthday party and I have been trying to put together a costume for it. This was the realm of my late husband and I have broken down so many times in tears while trying to craft it. He loved helping me craft, giving me his feedback, and even making a quick run to the craft store for me. Costumes were one of his passions and trying to make one on my own makes the loneliness crash in around me.

The loneliness is unbearable at times. Living in grief every day has a kind of brutal loneliness I have never experienced before, and I'm an only child who grew up shy and alone for most of my childhood. 

Part of that brutal loneliness is my desperation for touch. I used to be touched, kissed and hugged every single day, by a big, handsome man who loved me. Now I just pick up the crumbs that are thrown at me — a hug after a dinner date, a kiss on the cheek from a friend, the touch of the chiropractor on my shoulder. I greedily fall into these moments of touch, trying to memorize the feeling so that I can pull it up in my mind when I am crying alone in the night. Honestly, the lack of physical touch is probably the hardest, most brutal part of surviving year two as a sudden widow.

While I'm glad to have this project and a way to check in with myself and all of you, every week, it doesn't have the same impact as my daily grief project. This makes me sad, but I don't know what else to do right now, so I'm going to keep doing this.

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Surviving Year Two: Week 4

Forever Alone

This is Week 4 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

It's a long holiday weekend. While I am happy to have four days off of work, I am also feeling the deep, echoing emptiness of my life. My husband was the kind of person who always knew what was going on. He had a huge community of friends and every weekend, he always had about 20 different parties, events and happenings we could go to. He'd always know about the weird parties, out in the middle of a field, or the guy who lets you sit in his hot springs on Sunday mornings (but only if you brought him beer). Sometimes he'd have a performance and be furiously sewing his newest costume before we would head to the city or the East Bay, so he could dance his "Bear-lesque" in some back-room bar.

Now he's gone and I am realizing that I do not have the friend network he had. Most of my friends are living a bit more "traditional" lives, where the weekends are more about entertaining their kids and having tame BBQ's. Don't get me wrong — I adore those kids and I love a good BBQ — but I so deeply miss the wildness that my husband brought to my life.

Yesterday, I was doing some leisurely grocery shopping, instead of my usual rushed lunch break grocery shopping, and I realized that I was surrounded by hurried Burning Man Trekkers, getting last minute supplies before they headed off to the Playa. My husband was a long-time Burner and all those RVs and giant bottles of water made me so viscerally miss him, I felt like someone had punched me in my guts. I started sobbing right there in the deli aisle as people stared at me and carefully walked around me.

I don't know how to bring that wildness back into my life, without him.

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Surviving Year Two: Week 3

Lost & Found

This is Week 3 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

When he died, it felt like something broke inside me — like I was a wind-up toy with my clockworks torn out. I could limp along and function at the bare minimum, but nothing worked correctly, and I needed a lot of help.

I still catch myself waiting for something. I catch myself looking for something that is lost. Then I realize it is him I am waiting for. It is him who is lost, and I will never find him again because he is gone.  I am no one's special person anymore. No one wonders if I made it home safely. No one cares if I made dinner for myself or not.

I am slowly gathering up new pieces to replace my missing parts. In this place of losing everything, I am slowly finding old parts of me that I did not realize had been lost. There is immense power in being suddenly alone. I no longer have to answer to anyone else. I no longer have to bend and accommodate to another person's needs. Every single choice I make now, is for me and me alone.

Both Sides Now

And because I am suddenly alone, I had to get a full-time job, which severely cut down on my creative making time. But I am finding a way to prioritize that time, so that the weekends are full of new creations. I enjoy my job, but I have to have space to be strange and weird and make new images and videos and radio.

While I am loving and enjoying this time of creating, my heart is breaking because I cannot share my creations with my husband. He was my biggest cheerleader and helper in all my creative endeavors. I'm experimenting with new video ideas and new collaborations with wild, creative friends. I hope my husband is watching. I hope he is delighting in seeing me creatively blossom, in the midst of my broken-heartedness. I wish I could hear him laugh again, as he delighted in whatever weird thing I had recently made. I can hear him in my mind, saying what he often said to me in life: "You're amazing, baby. I love your beautiful mind."

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Grief Projects

Grief Projects

When my husband suddenly passed away in his sleep, I was thrown into a living a nightmare I thought I would never wake up from. Sometimes it still feels like that, but art, writing and other forms of creating saves my life every day, as I process my grief.

6 months after he passed away, I created the 6 Months of Grief Project, in which I made an image and wrote a post every single day for six months. That project ended on the one year anniversary of his death. When I finished that project, I fell into a deep depression and realized that I needed to keep creating around my grief, so I started Surviving Year Two, in which I check in and share my art and writing once a week.

We shall see what the future holds. Thanks for being a witness.


Grief Resources

These are an eclectic selection of grief resources I have collected for myself as I move through my grief. I hope they can be helpful to you too. When I find a new resource, I will return here to add it to the list. Please feel free to let me know of online support that you have found healing in your grief, as well:

Living with Grief Resources: