|One of several altars in the house for my late husband.|
This is Day 57 of my #6MonthsOfGrief Project. To learn more about this practice, feel free to visit Day One, where I explain this project in more detail.
After my husband passed away, I was sent and given so many things - cards, handmade gifts, talismans, artifacts. Since the items were so precious to me, I would place them all on the many altars in my house, but soon because I was so overwhelmed and so busy, these altars became dusty piles of stuff with tipping piles and scattered memories. Seeing my altars fall into disarray made me feel terrible, but the thought of sitting down and re-visiting so many precious, but painful memories felt like too much to bear.
With the help of my friend Johanna, I got a lot of other to-do's off my plate and after she returned to New York, I felt I was finally able to sit down and face these altars. I sifted and sorted and cried. I honored each item, as I cleaned it up. Through this process, I came to the realization that it was okay to pack the majority of these precious items up in a box and put them away for awhile. I felt the deep need for clean, simple altars, that really honor each item placed upon it. I realized that this actually makes the items more precious and seen. I have the intention of swapping things out over time, so I can take the time to really appreciate and honor each item and let it have it's sacred time on the altar. Today's Grief image is from a smaller altar I have created. It's on a little table that my husband scavenged for us.
|Current photo on my altar - Our Wedding Day, May 2005|
This newly cleaned up altar features a leather cuff my husband made for a Viking costume. I have placed a deer antler inside it. Both these items are missing their mates, just like me, and that lone antler has featured in a few of my Grief Images, so it's become quite powerful to me. There is a handmade Viking Cupcake that someone left at the memorial, which I adore. There is a photo taken at our wedding, just when I placed his wedding ring on his finger and everyone cheered for us. There is the brush he used to groom his beautiful beard.
There is also a gold dish that holds his glasses. The eyeglasses of the dead are so powerful. They really hold a lot of energy, because they were worn every single day. As Tammy Faye Baker says in the fantastic film The Eyes of Tammy Faye, "I think the eyes are so important... I think you can look in someone's eyes and really tell what kind of a person - what their heart is. And so when my precious friends die, I always ask if I could please have their glasses. When my mom died, I got my mama's glasses, and they're very, very precious to me. I like to put them on sometimes and think, you know, Mama looked through these."
On the wall above is a print he made in college, with a poem he wrote. I remember reading this poem the first night I spent the night at his house, and it was a very powerful moment for me, because I realized I was falling in love with this man. The way he processed and thought about the world took my breath away. I knew I wanted this unique, wild, sexy Bear of a man in my life. Reading this poem now that he has passed away, has a whole new meaning to me. It breaks my heart and yet still fills me with love for him. If time is circular and not linear, then perhaps there is some part of me that read that poem for the first time and new that it would be a loving thread through our lives together, all the way through to his death.
Here is the poem in it's entirety:
Where did my life go?
Have you seen my child?
Dancing in a church with iron gates and a crushed sandwich in his back pocket.
Limited horizons are taught by screens of color that sparkle.
How dare you go where I told you not my child.
A church is not a place to play
I asked God and He said it was OK.
How am I supposed to get the jam stain out of your Pants?
I'm sorry mommy.
I was talking to God.
what did He say?
I told you not to talk to strangers.
God told me a lot of things, I am sure He will tell you if you ask.
I am very aware that this project can bring up a lot around yours or other's grief and loss, I will always follow every post with some online grief support resources that have helped me. Please feel free to let me know of online support that you have found healing in your grief, as well:
Art with Grief:
- Photographer [Sarah Treanor] Takes Moving Self-Portraits to Cope with Her Fiance's Death by Jillian Wong
- When the Fall Comes, a film about Grief by Adriana Marchione
- Self-Portraits: Expressing Emotion Through Art on What's Your Grief?
- The Hard Romance of Grief by Mark Liebenow
- The poetry of John O’Donohue
Living with Grief Resources:
- Teresa “TL” Bruce's What to Say When Someone Dies
- They Brought Cookies: For A New Widow, Empathy Eases Death's Pain by Ann Finkbeiner on NPR
- A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
- The Geography of Sorrow: Francis Weller on Navigating Our Loses, interviewed by Tim McKee in Sun Magazine
- 12 Things to Know About the First Year of Grieving Someone You Can’t Live Without by Laurie Costanza in Elephant Magazine
Thank you, and see you tomorrow.