ART OF GRIEF
Click on the image for information and accompanying poem.
My mother died on the full moon in November. She lived very independently on an island in Maine until Lyme’s disease and small strokes robbed her of her ability to talk and walk. I moved in with her six months before to help her live, and then die. On that morning, we bathed and wrapped her body, chanted, drummed and sang, then ate cinnamon rolls that my daughter miraculously produced from ingredients she found in the near empty pantry. They were the best thing we ever tasted before or since.
For days, to help her soul and mine, I lit incense, burned a white candle and rang Tibetan bells. After her body was taken, I sat on her white couch, knowing my only job was to breathe. Mom always told me to make figure-eights when things got rough, to balance the energy. So I did. I painted them, over and over again. In every color I had. At all hours of the day and night. I protected the dining room table and floor with sheets and towels and made “grief paintings.” Sometimes I cried, sometimes I shouted. I kept “throwing paint,“ moving my energy.
In January, I wrote: More paint-dripping-and-throwing in my dining room today. Another grief painting helping me move my energy. Ah. Ugh. In February: What does grief look like? Throwing paint just throwing paint. Don’t really know how to get a grip here. Not in the least. Don’t know how to practice a path, or anything. I can throw paint. That’s about all I can do. Over and over. If that will heal me, goddamn I’ll do it.
Grief is a river I just have to ride. No taming or controlling it. Mom’s closest friend gave me these guiding words: just keep moving with the energy. That’s all. These paintings were a way to do that, to move with the wild holy river of grief.