Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sudden Loss

“It never gets easier,” I said to a young man in grief. Losing people is always hard. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to be mad. It’s not supposed to be pleasant.
My friend Thatch put it best, sitting across from me at the picnic table, bringing comfort to a dark moment. He said there’s a box in your brain, where you compartmentalize your friends, where all the bits and pieces of who they are to you live. Death upends the contents of that box and scatters them. The scattering is grief. It brings old things to the surface.
Time is not relevant. You have to relive every memory all over again, with new eyes. And your new eyes perceive those memories with the knowledge that the living, laughing friend in your recollections is now dead. It’s hardly the amount of time we spend with someone that prompts our grief, it’s the depth in the time spent together that does.
No, it never gets easier, but with each loss we have to navigate, with each grieving we endure and push past, we get stronger. We learn tools to transform the grief. We hold onto the knowledge that someday, though we will always miss them, we will be happy for their peace. Even if that day is not today.
We were on the mountain at a festival last week when news reached us of the sudden passing of our friend Freya Moon Greenleaf. I was grateful to hear the bad news in the midst of a spiritual container, surrounded by friends and fellow community members. Miles away from our home community, those of us who had travelled to the festival came together in our sorrow.
We gathered in the Ancestor Shrine, in the woods by the water, and called in our ancestors to welcome Freya to Spirit. We hung a prayer ribbon for her and wished her peace. We wished that her next turn around the earth will be happier and better for her. That part was for her, to honor her. But the grief is still real. Today, it is still fresh and still here.
“Love,” Sarahluna whispered to me, “just love.” And she was right. When you’re grieving the only place that’s safe to go is love. The best way we can honor those lost to us is to live in the world as brightly as we can. To laugh, touch, connect. To live, breathe and love.
That’s the part of grief that’s about us. We hurt because we know we won’t see our friends and loved ones anymore. We are hurting. They are not. Every breath we take reminds us of that. It also reminds us that we are alive. So we tell the people we love that we love them and hold tightly to them because in death we know how quickly a light can go out. So we breathe into those lights, to strengthen their flame.

I am lighting candles for your safe travels, Freya.
May the ancestors welcome you home.
May the memory of your laughter outshine the loss of you soon.

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