In 2004, I had a dream where I was given an assignment. I was to make recordings and duplicate them onto CDs to give to others. The CD was titled "Getting Along with Grief." Soon after, I had another dream, where I returned to my former home in a village in Spain to find a freshly dug grave in the garden. A few weeks after that dream, my friend, mentor, and spiritual companion, artist Mil Lubroth, was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. On May 4, 2005, she made the transition from this life to whatever comes next to us. And, after she died, she appeared to me in a dream, saying, "Don't worry, I'm practically next door."
As we move through this life on earth, we will "lose" more than we will "gain" in terms of friends and family members. Little did I know that after facing the loss of my friend, I would next face the loss of my father, another dear friend, and then the shocking surprise of my sister's life being cut short by a stealthy, aggressive cancer. I had held on through the turbulence and heaviness of these losses until my sister died. Then I found myself on new ground.
I needed to convince myself to stay on this side of existence. No, I was not suicidal. Yes, it felt utterly wrong that my "little" sister would leave this world without me. Part of me longed with heart, body, and soul to have the perfect Thelma and Louise moment. Let us hold hands and leap into the next world together. We did hold hands--and even so, she took that leap without my company.
Months after her departure, my dream returned to me. As I watched us struggle--her husband, my brother, my sister's closest friends and co-workers, and myself--I thought again of the dream of seven years ago. I realized that, sooner or later, we reach a point in life where we have to "get along with grief." Because we simply do not get over it. We can grow around the emptiness our loved ones leave, but we are fools to think we can fill the hole with anyone or anything else. We can move on, yes, and we may find other friends, near-sisters and -brothers, second mothers and fathers, adopted children. Yet, as we often hear in the business world that no one is indispensable, it is also true--inviolably true--that no one is replaceable.
So, how do we "get along" without the irreplaceable one we have loved and still do love? The mother, father, sister, brother, cousin, aunt, uncle, grandparent--and that cataclysmic loss--the child?
Well, there are ways. Yes, there are ways to get along. This blog will explore them, travel some of them, share what can be seen and learned along those "ways."
Feel free to join me.
I'll be posting, and will invite others to join me in posting. (Please see contributors' guidelines in the Profile section.) What will we blog about? We won't dwell on describing grief and its symptoms. We will spend time sharing about "getting along." Not getting over, but getting through. Not miraculous turn-arounds or learning how to obliterate sadness from life, but how to weave all of life's strands together, seeing how even pain is not without beauty.
If you have lost a loved one, if you know something--your unique something--about getting along with grief, you are welcome to join this scroll-on-a-screen. I hope it will serve as support and sustenance, will be a sturdy walking stick for us on this uneven road.