All of the words in the book Viking Funeral are my grief therapy. Welcome to my couch.
If you have found this blog through the hellfire valley of grief, I am with you. While none of us have an identical experience with grief, I have empathy for your pain and an understanding that your walk through this place will leave you changed. Our grief is as unique as our fingerprints, and none of us move through here the same way.
There was a time when I was angry about some of the unpleasant experiences in my life. After decades of walking around with that anger boiling below the surface inside me, I came to realize that those experiences helped me grow the most, and believe it or not, I came to see the purpose for the lessons of my path, what they taught me, patience, humor, tenacity, empathy, awareness, caution, organization. All of these gifts developed from my life experiences and I am grateful for all of them.
Through witnessing my brother Dave’s amazing and challenging life, the way he moved through it with grace and so much humor has helped me appreciate if you can believe it, grieving him. Like every other profound experience of life, ordinary pains of childhood, working, becoming a parent, dealing with difficult people or circumstances, we may learn from our grief, something beyond pain, possibly a new awareness that helps us grow in our humanity if we see it for what it is. It may sound ridiculous like I didn’t love my brother enough to understand real grief. but please keep reading.
I worried I would forget the essence of who my brother was, leave him behind in the dust of my past. I found it helpful to write down my favorite memories of him, initially in the form of a quick list. I later filled in the details. By later, I mean, years later, for some of those stories to be finished. I began sharing what I wrote by reading out loud to my family and his friends. They laughed with me; we remembered more details together; sometimes, I cried, sometimes a few sniffles, sometimes I wept. By the way, crying is a stress-release cycle (Google it) each of us possesses, please allow it to fulfill its purpose and let the tears come. All of it was helpful to me. I am pretty sure it has been helpful for my family and his closest friends.
I initially shared unedited chapters of what I had written online to reach my distant family, his friends, my friends who are not in my life’s immediate neighborhood, and along the way with strangers to solicit input for clarity; the chapters have been removed as I prepare for the final wrap up of the book. I am grateful for my walk through the hellfire of grief with the help of all of you even though there was still a load of cursing. I would like to say I have made it through, but honestly, I don’t think there is another side like a riverbank over there; since no one escapes death, I think this grief chapter of our life experience is meant for deeper diving, uncovering from what we are made. It may feel ice cold at first, with nothing but undertow, but working to understand the current, working with it can transport us through our self-examination to a place of possibly beautiful understanding of ourselves. What that something is will be different for each of us because it is based in part on the complexities of the relationship and personality of the person we are grieving and ourselves within and without that context.
My writing, my grieving, my language, may not be a good fit for your tastes or lifestyle. I am sharing what I have learned in my grief with those who may be starting out on their path, who may be so lost in their loss, they need what is causing their grief-the vortex of missing reciprocal love from their lost loved ones, your-lost loved one, more than anyone. I encourage everyone to write or talk about their loved one because it may help you.
As a witness to his life, I felt bad for the ENTIRE world who missed out on knowing him and began writing with that intent-sharing him with the world. I encouraged him to write his story to help people, to motivate people- people with disabilities and those without. HIS book changed without him to write it, writing his story from my perspective has helped me in ways I couldn’t know until I was somewhere in the middle of it, and I am so grateful. So I am opening the doors wide to my grief with the hope that reading my love of my brother through the curse words of my grief and my often rolling of my eyes type of dark humor may help you see something in your grief that helps you.
Often those close to us can’t understand our grief and we find solace in the presence of strangers, don’t be upset with them, it is a thing. My brother Dave embued love and gave it away freely to anyone and everyone. In his honor, I am giving away all these words out of love for him, out of love for my grief and what it has taught me, for love of others who I see painfully struggling in their grief, this is written from the place of love for the humanity in all of us.
I have talked to thousands of people about their grief through conversations sparked by this blog since I unzipped my life of memories and poured everything online for the world to read. I know it helps me to talk to all of you, hear your favorite stories of your loved ones, add their names and images of those filling my heart alongside all my memories of my brother Dave, and my other loved ones who are no longer with me.
I look forward to each lovely, amazing, or hilarious story you may want to share with me at the bottom of any page, leave a comment.