Before we went to Ireland and very nearly after we returned I was hammered by deep grief. This is definitely one of those subjects people do not want to think about, let alone talk about; which becomes part of the problem. I remembered the ‘stages’ of grief from my hospice training twenty years ago, and yet I could not peg myself into the exact stage I was in.
So I did what any logical person would do, I googled it. I found It’s Ok That You Are Not OK by Megan Devine on Amazon which I quickly loaded to my Kindle. I read for days and quite quickly figured out the reason this grief was so different from past griefs. This one was deep, deeper than any before it.
Two things lifted me out of it. I know it is early, and it may return but so far, so good. The two things were: realizing this grief was so deep was because in the past three years I have experienced 19 losses. NINETEEN. Nine friends have moved out of state, two friends died, one simply walked away, our old dog died, my lil sis lost in dementia, four elders died, and my dearly beloved has descended further into Parkinson’s. Yep, that’s a few…
The other thing that worked was writing. As you know if you read this often, I love to write. It is often how I figure things out, as in self-therapy. So I pulled up a chair and began to write about these 19 losses, and how sorrowful I feel about my husband’s illness, whereas before I have only felt anger…another stage of grief. The only reason I write this down, in my blog, is to bring grief out of the closet.
A piece of my immobilizing grief was how will this affect my art practice? Will I ever make art again? Am I done? Is this it? Who am I if not an art-maker?
I don’t believe I am done. I have a lot more I want to say. I am doing a lot of hand-stitching which is really meditative and when I sit in my studio, surrounded by cloth and colors, I know my work here is not finished. It’s funny, this muse. It can take you down as fast as it can lift you up. I trust, and do honestly believe there is more to come.
Interestingly enough, the muse, and Marion have already led me in a new direction. I have decided to mentor a good friend on her creative path. I have thought of it before, and always stopped as I know I cannot change other people’s behavior, although I have vast experience in trying to…i.e., 48 years of marriage! And yet this time it became abundantly clear that Marion had a hand in this.
Marion was not only an extraordinary friend; she was the most generous artist I have ever met. Even as her days were numbered, she was encouraging me to apply for a public art project or submit work for an art purchase. So often she pushed me out of my comfort zone, to consider my long-term & end goals for my art, and to do stuff that just plain scared me. Would I ever have applied for a grant were it not for Marion? No. Did I get a grant? Yes!
So I have decided to pay it forward, with gratitude. I don’t need to change anyone’s behavior but rather share the generosity that was bestowed on me; to push her out of her comfort zone and encourage her to do the stuff that scares.
This person knew Marion solely through my work and respected her so very much. She called recently to wish me a happy opening to our upcoming exhibit in San Diego, which she perceived might be difficult for me, so soon after Marion’s death. She is a big fan of both Marion’s work and of my work. It just seems as though Marion is orchestrating this, from the great beyond.
I anticipate my friend’s creativity will grow, as will my own.