Thursday, March 24, 2016

Death: Letting Go vs. Loss

I have been pondering the difference between letting go and loss, as a result of reorganizing my everything after the death of my beloved daughter, Jessica, at the tender age of 26, last year. 

Everyone speaks to us of loss when someone close to us dies. "I'm sorry for your loss," they say. And for a while, it seems valid and sensible and somewhat comforting to hear that. Not only do we seem to "lose" our loved one(s) to death, but we also may lose part or most of ourselves in the process, and have to work hard to redefine and pull ourselves back together, depending on how close they were and how much an active part of our daily lives, or depending on the complexity of the relationship.

Cycles are natural and good.
In my process of recovery, I've found there's something going on inside myself that KNOWS. When I cry my stomach and shoulders heave and tears pour out of my eyes and drench everything and I go through more tissues than all the previous years of my life added together, but the thought runs through my mind, and I hear myself saying out loud, "What are you crying for? It's okay, it's okay." 

And that something that runs underneath my ego KNOWS it's okay. That's why the crying eventually settles into little sniffs and I don't run into the street screaming and beating my chest and keening forever. I go clean something. I go pet the puppies. I go start a creative project. I go. Something inside of me, and I would guess, all of us, just KNOWS.

Resting in peace
That something, I define as the spiritual part of myself - half of the bonded body/soul, here in this physical world. All I have to do to connect with it is be still and listen.

This is the part that has inspired me to examine the meaning of letting go. To let go is "to allow someone or something to escape or go free"; "to relinquish one's grip on someone or something." Source -

Each of us can pull up anchor and sail on.
And the spirit part of me also inspired me to examine the meaning of loss, or losing. To lose is "to be deprived of or cease to have or retain"; to become unable to find (something or someone).

Sometimes I need a little direction to find what I'm seeking.
I love the definition of letting go - and in the context of my daughter's passing, I envision it as her gaining her freedom without having to ask for the car keys. The spiritual part of me is thrilled that she's no longer "anchored" by sickness. The spiritual part of me knows she is not, and never will be "lost to me." Why she's right here in my heart, in my memories, in my DNA, in the very time and space that existed while she was here, and will always exist, and has always existed, when I think of my understanding of time and space, which are simultaneous except for here on our Earth plane of existence, and the love between us.  We were, we are, and we will always "be." 

Life in partnership
I like the idea that we lived the time we had together in partnership, and after she moved on, I honored our partnership by taking care of her things and keeping some of her things to hold close and celebrate her life and accomplishments and membership in our family. I feel that though she's changed form, and is now the combination of all of her lives on Earth and elsewhere, as well as closer to the central force of energy which I call our Creative Source, of which I believe we all are made, and with which we belong at all times whether we know it or not - I feel soothed in the knowledge that I too will undergo the very same process of changing form. How exciting, really, though I have much to do and other relationships here to honor before I get to do that.

Gigglepuss wears a woodland headband I decorated her with.
A life well-lived is worth much celebration. Much gratitude for our participation in it. A life well-lived, to me, is one in which we get to experience all kinds of things. And Jess did. And she shared so very well.

I am so very proud of her.
She followed her heart to experience life and love.
Happy travels!
And I think she is still following her heart, as we will all have the chance to do. 

And sometimes it leads her back to us, where she peeks in, and I look at the clock and it's 4:44, or 2:22, or 5:55, or 3:33, or 10:10. And I notice that the video she created to send for her brother's wedding is exactly 1:11 minutes/seconds long. So many little signs to let us know she loves us. So much love wafting up from us to her in her new worlds.

So these are the thoughts I have around letting go vs. loss. We have lost nothing, and I am so very wowed by what we have created between us. It's lovely. It's enduring. And I'm okay with letting go, since it's very freeing for Jess, and for us as well. 

We will meet on the same plane again, whether here or there, and until then, I listen and blow kisses when she sends her signs.

I should probably mention that it's still pretty good to hear "I'm sorry for your loss," since that's how we express ourselves when we perceive physical anguish around "the missing" feelings. 

It's okay, it's okay.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Flipped Thinking XXX - This is one of the hard parts I mentioned a while back

Beauty in Nature
So when I looked through my daughter, Jessica, the photographer's photos, of course I found some that she had taken of herself in a very special place. Sauvie Island, in Portland is an ancient place, full of Native American/First Peoples history, a place she would naturally be drawn to. She was drawn to it for many reasons.

As I read her journal entries I discovered to my distress that she had been severely depressed for several years. She never let it show, except with a couple of very close friends who understood and listened and stayed true to her.

She developed an unfortunately all to common symptom of trouble within the self, which is called "self-injury," and it involves a fascination with knives and sharp objects which are used to cut the skin. Many young people under too much pressure suffer this these days. We don't hear much about it.

She didn't like the idea of doing that to herself and in order to ameliorate it she started going to a nudist beach at Sauvie Island. We were close, and she told me lots of things, so I knew about Sauvie Island. She told me stories on the phone of the people she hung out with - elders who watched over her, told her the safe spots to spend time, people who'd play frisbee and walk and talk and be comfortable in their own skins without any sexual overtones. No drinking, no wild parties, no carrying on, just peaceful encounters in beautiful Nature. But she never told me why she went there.

She never told me about her depression. She never told me about the time she started carving on her skin with fingernail clippers or the times she would look at knives and want to use them against herself. I read about it in her journal entries when I inherited her computer. It was very hard to read about when it was too late to do anything to help her.

She only told me about going to Sauvie Island.

I worried like a mother does and trusted her to keep herself safe. And after she died of the sickness that stole all the strength from her body, losing 60 lbs she couldn't afford to lose, losing the strength in her legs so that I took care of her in a wheelchair and helped her do everything personal for the time I had her with me, when I came upon these photos I understood. This was her grace. This was her sanctuary. This was her safe place.

The sickness she had, Guillian Barré, probably triggered by Lyme gone undiagnosed or treated for several years, often kicks in severe depression.

When I discovered these photos in her collection it made my heart sing to see her so strong, and it flipped my thinking. In her journal entries she wrote that she chose to go to Sauvie Island so that she would not cut herself because she didn't want her friends there to see the marks. So in her view, it was a place of refuge and safety, from the biggest demons we ever face, which are those within.

Beauty and tranquility.
The message here is that what I saw/thought/felt as a mother got flipped after what I learned after her passing - what I worried about was not the thing to worry about. She had found a way to safety through sweet people who are close to nature and hanging it loose, hey it was Portland.

What I learned is NOT to judge, ever. Not to place my own fears and concerns onto another person because I do not know their perspective. Not even my own daughter who was so close with me (ah, such a teacher she was), but she was also her own independent, grown-up person, and she protected me to a great extent from what she knew I'd worry about. The deeper things. Things she feared I'd step in to try to correct. She found her way and her body was unmarred.

Peace and safety.
My little bird soaring in her power. So beautiful.

I do not know if she knew she was dying when she had these photos done. But I'm so glad she had them done. They are too beautiful not to share. They are the celebration of natural beauty and life itself in the face of adversity.


She is gone now. And I feel she would want me to share her message.

Celebrate yourself. Fly. Don't let the bastards get you down.

I am sssssooooo glad she had these moments.

I have asked for her permission to share these very personal photos and insights. She will glitch the computer if she doesn't want them to be shared. xo

For anyone who has this trouble, self-injury, try some really good counseling, or if that's not for you, try a nudist beach. Most of them are generally a whole lot more wholesome than one would imagine, especially in France.

I will also mention that I have a close friend whose daughter had this problem - I hope it's resolved now, I haven't heard from her more about it. It is more common than you would imagine, and happens in the very best of families. Be kind, be kind.