So, We Did A Thing...
Updated: Apr 8, 2021
“Here comes the sun, and I say…it’s alright.”
- The Beatles 1969
Whoever first described grief as a “storm” really nailed it. After the hurricane of feelings that bombarded us over spring break, Easter weekend loomed ahead and I was bracing myself for the blustery assault. I didn’t know what to expect… except the unexpected, of course.
The week leading up to Good Friday was hard. Especially for Miller, my beautiful ten-year-old son. He is the biggest empath I know and my greatest teacher. Miller lives with Cerebral Palsy as a result of an unexplained brain injury at birth and it affects him physically, but not cognitively. He is bright and hilarious and has a special something that not all kids have… he has a magnetic personality and people are truly drawn to him. His gigantic blue eyes may be a part of that too! Physically, his speech is affected by CP (he is also one of the best communicators I know!) and he walks with a little bit of, what I like to call, “swagger”. He loves school, sports, and his little sister (most of the time!), he has a killer golf swing and more patience and resilience than anyone I know. When he lost his Dad in September he also lost his best friend and his greatest champion. Darcy loved him and believed in his infinite abilities in a way that I hope I can live up to. He was Miller’s north star. And Miller was his.
(This photo perfectly sums up their big wild love.)
I could see Miller struggling as we got closer to the long weekend, I could tell he was experiencing a next wave of grief. Just like his Dad in so many ways, Miller, as it turns out, is very protective of me. The storm was coming in but he didn’t want to burden me with it and so he was muddling through it with a lower vibe than usual. I was struggling too. How could I possibly help him with this? It was one thing for me, at age 47 with a well-developed spiritual practice and a natural comfort level with loss, to be a little further on in my acceptance and healing. After all, I have had the luxury of life experience and the freedom to grieve like it’s my JOB. These kids are just new here… and they are navigating life and school and uncertainty all at once. How could a ten-year-old boy ever make sense of the idea that his perfectly loving Dad left the house one day and just never came back? (He would never DO that! Never.) But it HAD happened, and with no earthly evidence and no concrete answers, I worried about how I was going to help Miller make his way through the repetitive storms. How could I ever help him find some peace? I felt powerless. It didn’t feel like enough to just trust in his resilience. He has been through so much in his decade of life already. His resilience didn’t need any testing or further strengthening. I felt I needed to DO something.
Usually I just give them candy if I want them to return to their happy dispositions!
I'm not winning any Mom awards these days! HA!
I have always been a lover of rituals and ceremony – the repetition of things and the acknowledgement of our experiences serves us so greatly in this life – ritual is something we can rely on and control and ceremony allows us to process things that are out of our control, so I decided to turn to my own ritual and ask the universe for support. I guess you could call it my way of praying. I stood under the full moon, bare feet in the grass of my moonlit yard, and breathed deeply as I pleaded with the universe for some guidance. It wasn’t much but it was all I could do in that moment and, as usual, when I surrendered to the universe, she delivered.
I won’t get into all the ways that I was able to connect the dots about what to do for my kids but I WILL say, that the most obvious clue came to me right away. Instantly. As I stood under the moon that night, engaging in my personal ceremony and prayer, I realized that this was EXACTLY what we needed. What Miller needed. We ALL needed a ceremony.
GAH! How obvious! How could I have let us go this long without one? Well, I have some pretty good reasons for that! Covid -19 restrictions, the fact that Darcy was a very private person and would not want a big sad gathering in his honour AND that I didn’t want to further traumatize my kids (or myself!) with the big lead-up to a funeral of any kind. It just didn’t suit us. It didn’t suit Darcy at all. But I knew we needed to do something. Just the three of us. That was HIS favourite way to do everything, so I’d start there and see what came to me.
The morning of Good Friday I was on my yoga mat, surrendering again and praying silently to just “know” how and when to do this and, sure enough, by the end of my postures and meditation, I had my plan. I could feel it in my gut and I was so grateful. Today was the day. As I say all the time, if we have learned one thing from this experience it is that “now is the time”. Now was the time.
When the kids woke up I told them about my ideas, and Miller began shaking with anxiety and fear. As hard as that was to watch, it was also a clear indication that he was ready for a big release and this would help. Like the time your tiny toddler has a sliver and they are beside themselves and just can’t look. YOU know they have to experience the pain, and THEY know they have to experience the pain… but they trust you, and you have faith in yourself and you just grab the tweezers and yank it right out of their skin. You just have to rip that band aid off. Now was the time. We spent the day preparing… gathering the right photos of Darcy with his loved ones, candles, a card to write some thoughts and wishes on, the perfect roses chosen by the kids… all symbols of our big, big love for him. All symbols of our wishes for him and ourselves to find some peace and the next level of healing, together.
(At the Flower Factory on Main Street, picking out some blooms. As you can see here, the kids have inherited my 'covid-chic' look of not brushing their hair or remembering how to throw together a good outfit for going out in public.)
Without getting into details, I will say that, after six long months of not knowing how to ceremoniously acknowledge our loss of Darcy, I was so grateful to have it all come together in my heart so quickly. It was divinely timed and guided, it was intimate, it was excruciating and it was also really fun and funny in parts! We even had a dance party and pizza at the end!
To have kids that are this brave and resilient and hilarious… it’s such a gift. It felt like a last earthly adventure for the four of us together… and that felt okay. Even though we talk about him every day, it helped our hearts so much to formally acknowledge what it meant for us to have been loved the way he loved us. And It finally felt safe to let him go.
I woke up rested the next day and I felt so light…like it was my birthday. In a way, I guess it was. I’m a little bit new now. I see a shift in Miller too and I know that something completed for him during that ceremony. Like a full-stop marks the end of the sentence and completes it…even though there is still a long, interesting and beautiful story to unfold.
Until Next Time,
Heal & Be Healed.
PS. Gratuitous SHOUT OUT to my fellow optimistic navigator of grief, Julie Kick!
Her new book "Weathering The Grief Storm" is a beautiful memoir and healing guide and it is available on Amazon, NOW in Kindle version and on April 15th in hardcover.
It's a beautiful tribute to the love story between Julie and her late husband John as they endured his battle with terminal cancer - an epic tale of how they both managed to find joy and gratitude amid the devastation. That's MY kinda story! I had the pleasure of being an early reader of the book for Merack Publishing, in it's final stages of editing, and I am SO grateful for the connection that I was able to find in these beautiful and honestly written pages. This is exactly the book I was looking for six months ago. Anyone looking to thrive amid adversity and loss would benefit from this great read... Bravo Julie!