I am featuring a 5-minute YouTube video with Tara Branch, the well-known therapist and Buddhist practitioner. In this particular video, Tara speaks about how to be present for our loved-ones dying.
Those shoes “above” are my mothers.
She wore them in 1917, two years before her father fell ill after inhaling hay dust during “haymaking season.” He died of pneumonia two weeks later. The death was not unusual as penicillin was yet to be discovered. What was unusual was my grandmother putting my 4-year old mother on her father’s bed and telling her she that she could make him well.
Obviously she failed.
Recently The Atlantic magazine published an article “In Grief, Try Personal Ritual” about the positive influence of private ritual for people dealing with the death of a loved one. The article’s author quotes Joan Didion from her book The Year of Magical Thinking, which is about how she survived her husband’s unexpected death from a massive heart attack. No mention is made, however, of the fact that Didion’s only child died a mere 20 months later.
“And grief, like love, is resistant to reason….”
Mark Slouka’s father recently died. He acknowledges that old men die every day, but then his dad isn’t just any old man, and there is also the kicker that he is now the sole living member of his family—no aunts or uncles, no cousins, no brothers or sisters—no more shared blood. I understand this strange circumstance as I am also the last one standing in my family.
Performer Satori Shakoor talks about how she came to life after her mother and son died within a 9-month period.
This post features one of the live performances from NY’s McArthur Award-winning The Moth Series. Some of the presentations take your breath away. Here is Shakoor’s story of loss told through the lens of humor.
“Wearing my father’s coat. He has died. I didn’t like him, but I wear the coat.”
The poet, Marc Smith, delivers his poem “Wearing My Father’s Coat” in the video below. It is a surprisingly honest commentary on the kind of ambivalent grief many of us experience after the death of a parent.
Have you ever said to yourself, “I hated it when my mother (or dad) did such and such” and yet you find yourself “wearing their coat?”
Why do we emulate what we disliked about a parent? Best answer: because our early life depended upon it. The truth is your parents’ life strategies and perspectives needed to be “right” – and remain unquestioned – in order for you to feel safe as a child.
But you are now grown up.