Recently I was asked why I share such personal information on my blog. The questioner stated that he could not imagine “revealing” this kind of material in a public forum. I have been thinking about this query for the past couple of weeks. The verb to reveal comes from the 14th century old French reveler which means to uncover, to disclose, to “unveil”. The mission of my blog is to share my personal story, inform, educate, and ultimately contribute to the well-being of others who have lost a significant other and are attempting to find their footing in the new world in which they are living. In order to do this, I must “remove the veil” that could keep a distance between me and you my reader about the real experiences I encountered along my journey. I am compelled to tackle the deeper/harder issues that one encounters during grief because I believe the spirit of my experience will come through and reach people more authentically than if I stayed hidden behind a veil of discretion or academic writing. I can talk about my descent to the underworld of grief, as well as my ascent back to the world of the living. I am a straight shooter and believe that declarative writing serves me best because it allows me to make my experiences known thus allowing me to offer reflections and hopefully a life line to others. The late Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung talks about the value of going into the depths of one’s experience in order to open oneself beyond the personal ego. He believed that individuals grow continually in psychic awareness by paying attention to dreams, exploring the worlds of religion and spirituality, and questioning the assumptions of the operant societal world views.
I had a very important dream roughly two weeks after Roy’s death. In the dream, I am in Israel and dressed in the clothes that I wore to Roy’s funeral – an ankle length black skirt, a black blouse and vest and black sandals. I am walking on an old cobblestone road and I notice the architecture of buildings from ancient Israel. I am leading the funeral procession of friends and family to the cemetery. Roy’s casket is behind me in a horse drawn cart and following the casket is a very large group of family members and friends. At one point I look back at the group and tell them to settle down as they were too boisterous and not showing the decorum I felt was fitting to the occasion. As I turn back to look ahead, I see another funeral procession approaching us. The group draws closer and I see a Moslem woman veiled and dressed in black. She is accompanied by two family members on either side of her. I recognize she is also a widow. I take note that I walk alone and in front of the others and she is supported by two loving family members. I tell my family and friends to move to the side and let the Moslem procession pass by. As the black draped widow passes me, she and I turn toward each other and bow. We then stand up and look each other in the eyes – her black eyes are strained and filled with despair. My blue eyes are filled with tears. In the moment that our eyes connect, I know that we are acknowledging the universal pain that women have carried for centuries. Women are typically the ones who meet the caskets of husbands, sons, and daughters killed in war.
This dream told me that my pain was not only personal but one being shared by thousands of women at the same time all around the world. Women from very different cultures were experiencing pain like mine and in an odd and comforting way, I was not entirely alone in my pain. The dream spoke of my response and the other widow’s response to death, grief, and widowhood. Through our eye to eye contact, we recognized a part of our self in the other.
I hope that up to this point my posts have revealed to you that my journey of grief was gnarly. I needed a great deal of psychological, spiritual, and loving support from a diverse team of professionals, clergy, family, and close friends. Many of my family members and friends worried about me and were concerned whether I would make it back in tact to the land of the living. I think it is evident from my posts that I have returned with a depth of perspective and a wealth of experience. Life has never felt so sweet to me as it does now. For this sweetness, I am eternally grateful.
The moral of my story: Never give up on yourself or life.