The grieving process is not to be trifled with. Over the past two weeks I’ve been hard at work on a guest post for one of my favorite blogs, Kind Over Matter. Longer, really, as I was framing the story in my mind before I started putting it on paper. This is my 6th piece for them. Back in late November, I agreed to write about my friend Jenn’s final days in hospice. I’d written an article about Jenn when she was first diagnosed, and this would be sort of a follow-up. Jenn had passed away in September, and at the time, I figured writing about it in February would be fine.
Um, yeah, not so much.
The article itself came out well, and I’m very pleased with it (it comes out Saturday). It’s just been so hard to revisit that time, and to try and capture it in words. A worthy challenge, and I always enjoy writing, yet at the same time, I’ve felt more tender and sorrowful than usual. Some of my normal practices and activities have been set aside while I’ve been focused on writing it. I’ve been quieter and sought solitude more often.
As is often the case, I seek solace in books. During this time, one thing I’ve noticed is the power of mythology to ease my sorrows.
The book Invoking Animal Magic by Hearth Moon Rising contained many myths from various cultures. The archetypes found within these myths have woven their magic, seeping into my soul. I feel connected to a larger story, part of the very human legacy of loss, hope, and healing. I felt compassion for Inanna as she walked past gate after gate, deep into the underworld, releasing all the symbols of her power. I cheered for Vasilisa as she stood frozen with fear in front of Baba Yaga’s chicken-legged house. There are parts of us in all these tales.
I don’t necessarily just mean ancient mythology, though. I’ve been reading a review copy of a delightful book called Fiona and the Black Faerie Prince by Ken Coffman and Kristen Poeraatmadja, and it too has engaged me on several levels. There are many writers crafting modern myths that reach into our hearts: Neil Gaiman, Tad Williams, Robin Hobb, Patrick Rothfuss. Stories are healing. They help us to make sense of things that seem unjust or random.
Loss and grief are universal. The impact of losing someone we love, even when we know they are better off being released from their suffering, knocks us askew. The effects can linger for quite a while, as we integrate the loss into our daily lives, and assimilate all that we’ve learned and experienced.
This natural process can be aided by the healing power of mythology. Try it – seek out stories that touch your soul. May you be blessed and uplifted.