Rituals. Their Power.

Beltane and the Moon of Mourning

Monday gratefuls: Kate with the rotary cutter, at her sewing table. Kate playing cribbage with me. Kate lounging on the deck chair as we passed through the Chilean fjords. The Ancient Ones. Diane and Mary. Seoah, her call. Joe. His sweet nature. Before and After Loss by Lisa Shulman.

Sparks of Joy: The vastness of the Pacific. Seeing Murdoch.

First of the retirement cruise

Reading Before and After Loss by Lisa Shulman. Recommended by my personal trainer, Deb, who lost her husband to glioblastoma last June. It combines memoir with the scientific expertise of a neurologist. Both Lisa and her husband Bill were neurologists in Baltimore.

About half way through it, only now dipping into the neurobiological roots of grieving. Deb was right. This is a well written book from a person experienced with grief and with the brain’s response to trauma. Worth the read.

Shlohshim continues. I’m modifying it a bit by having the thirty days run from Kate’s death. I read the kaddish prayer every day. At the end of shloshim the Jewish mourning period is over. It’s a gentle path for reentry to the normal world. I will finish on May 12, two days before I leave for Hawai’i.

On May 12th I will cease using pictures of Kate in the blog every post. A way to guide myself further along the path of reintegration, renewal, reconstruction of my self.

The rituals I’ve experienced so far have been powerful, meaningful, and healing. I saw her dead body in the hospital. Awful, in its way, but necessary. I did not see the body after that.

Family gathered, each with their own grieving. We supported each other that first week. Ruth stayed with me, then Seoah came. I was not alone until Saturday. Meals began arriving the day of her death and have come on Sunday and Wednesday since then.

The memorial service led by Rabbi Jamie and attended by over 80 people, most on Zoom, took my mourning out of its isolation and made it also communal. Others cared for her. Loved her. Grieved her loss. This was the first major shift in my inner journey. Those first three days were chaotic and numbing and so hard.

That Friday night Seoah and I went to the service at Beth Evergreen where we stood as Kate’s family during the saying of kaddish. On Sunday night we had our Shiva minyan. That finished with Seoah and me walking out to the end of the driveway with Rabbi Jamie, Alan, Marilyn, and Jamie Bernstein, then returning through a line made by the four of them, to the house.

Since that day I’ve been reading the kaddish prayer each day and including pictures and memories of Kate in the blog.

Joe and I picked up her ashes. I created a small shrine that includes items that recall her uniqueness. That shrine contains and limits the terrible power of her remains, makes it possible for them to be in my sight line as I work at the computer.

All of this to remind me that yes, she is dead; no, she’s not gone, but alive still in memory, both mine and so many others.

Another time of memory will occur on August 18th when we scatter some of her ashes on Shadow Mountain near Maxwell Falls and share a meal of dishes that remind us of her. I hope the whole family can attend.

retirement cruise, Montevideo, Uruguay










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