blogging a to z april challenge – h

h – healing

When I was discussing the possibility of grad school with my counselor, she informed me it would be like a very expensive counseling session.

She wasn’t lying.

I had also heard that this kind of program is transformative; that I would not end the same person I was when I started.

Also not wrong.

The experience and all its layers have been healing. With every class, theory, self-reflection, project, and exposure to others I at least learned something about myself, if not also my grief.

Carl Jung quote

capture your grief, day 19: grief rituals

We have a few rituals to honor Kade. I didn’t necessarily set out to create rituals, but some activities we’ve done have stuck.

Kade died on June 29th, 2012. When the 29th of the next month approached, I didn’t know how I would get through that day. I decided to invite his friends over. I did the same the next month, and months after that. It was comforting to be surrounded by his young friends, and help each other get through.

img_2155

11/29/12

When the first year anniversary of his death approached, I knew it was right for me at that time to be with family and friends. Our whitewater rafting day down Brown’s Canyon, with Kade’s rafting company, his fellow guides, and his friends from Denver, was exactly the right thing for me. And it has been, for three more years. I can’t imagine that it won’t ever be right, but am open to if and when I feel that I want to do something different.

r1-05696-017a

6/29/14

I like to give gifts for those who come rafting. The first year I had purple silicone wristbands made that said, “Kade * loved * missed.” The next year I had bandannas made with his signature and image. Then we had t-shirts made, and this past year, more wristband that read, “Journey never ends, river bends.”

For Kade’s birthday each year we’ve had a pizza party. After pizza we’ve released sky lanterns. We couldn’t the last two times, because two years ago it was too windy and last year we had it during the daytime.

11_2014-01-25-14-40-03

1/24/14, Kade’s 21st birthday

12_20140124_212819

1/24/14, Kade’s 21st birthday

13_20140124_212829

1/24/14, Kade’s 21st birthday

I’ve arranged volunteering around his birthdays. We’ve done the library and animal shelter. I feel a drive to put some of the good into the world that Kade would have.

When we go to MI to visit family, we write messages on and release sky lanterns for Kade and my Grandpa Albert.

When I go on a hike or to the beach I like to write Kade’s name in sticks and rocks, or in the sand.

20160325_161617

Rituals can be so healing. I love that I don’t have to decide what to do on big days like the anniversary or his birthday. For now, what we’re doing is working.

I hope that we find more healing rituals that speak to us in the years to come.

carlymarie capture your grief – day 1: sunrise dedication

I’m participating in Capture Your Grief for my third October.

From CarlyMarie’s website:

WHAT IS CAPTURE YOUR GRIEF?
Capture Your Grief is a mindful healing project for anyone who is grieving the death of a baby or child of any age or gestation There are 31 subjects, one for each day in the month of October. You are invited to explore each subject and share a photo, artwork, video or written word that captures your own journey. Capture Your Grief is about becoming more present and conscious in your grief experience so that you may learn more about yourself and hopefully discover more ways of healing to aid you in your journey of grief and personal growth. It is also my hope that through the magic of social media you will find and connect with new people and make some beautiful friendships. You can join the project at any time of the month and there is no pressure to take part every single day. You can pick and choose your subjects. So do what feels right for you.

20161001_064845_lls

Almost sunrise…

20161001_065442

Found my spot, waiting…

I did it. I set my alarm and got up at 6:15 a.m. And on a Saturday. No one in our household could be described as a morning person, but after brushing away brief and irrational thoughts of why I shouldn’t get up (Maybe it’s not safe to be out gallivanting around by myself. What if I encounter a mangy rabid coyote?), I did it.

I am so glad for this prompt to get out of bed, be outdoors in the early morning air, and witness a sunrise. This is the third year I’ve driven to Daniels Park—only about 12 minutes from my house—for day 1.

It was a little cool, though not as cool as other years where I’ve grabbed gloves on my way out. My flannel kept me comfortable (what else would I wear for this?). I heard silence, and birds, and best of all, elk bugling (maaaaybe it was coyotes howling, but I’m pretty sure it was elk). The last time I heard bugling was last fall on a morning hike at the Crazy Good Grief Retreat in Tabernash.

Though no human joined me for sunrise photographs, I wasn’t alone this morning. (Well, I hoped I wouldn’t be quite alone, really). After I planted myself on top of a rock a few moments before the sun would crest, who should meander squarely into my frame, directly between my rock and the rising sun? Two horses. Thank you, grey and white horses for enhancing my sunrise photos today!

20161001_065700

20161001_065749

20161001_065952

Daniel’s Park offers not only rugged high prairie landscape for watching the sun rise to the east…but across the road, a view to the freakin’ Rocky Mountains to the west. After shooting pictures of the rising sun, I drove a few yards, walked to the other side of the road, and shot pictures of the pink new sunlight pouring onto the mountains.

20161001_070524

The jagged peaks to the left are Devil’s Head Fire Lookout, a favorite hike

20161001_070608

Mt. Evans

I was taken in by the beauty, the stillness, the fresh air, and the alone time with Kade. I couldn’t stop stopping my car, getting out, and taking more pictures as I drove out of the Park.

20161001_070857

20161001_071158

Downtown Denver in the distance to the right

20161001_071355

To see sunset photos from all around the world (it’s really cool!): CarlyMarie Project Heal Facebook Link

To learn more about Capture Your Grief: CarlyMarie Project Heal Capture Your Grief 2016

blogging a – z challenge – “l”

L

How about a little levity with this post?

I was going to choose laughter, but levity is such a pretty word. One of my favorites. And…it’s the name of one of my favorite beers (Levity Amber Ale) from one of my favorite brewing companies (Odell Brewing Company) from one of my favorite towns (Fort Collins, CO, where I went to college).

lev·i·ty   ˈlevədē/   noun
humor or frivolity, especially the treatment of a serious matter with humor or in a manner lacking due respect
Early on in grief I don’t believe I laughed much. Reason number hundred and eleven that it’s good to have a great grief therapist: She gave me the assignment of watching funny movies. She suggested I balance tears with laughter. I loved that. My husband and I got on a kick of watching all the funny movies we could. We would catch some at the theater when they came out. We’d watch them at home. We watched lots of stand-up on Netflix. These laughter dates were so refreshing.

I do them to this day. Before Kade died, I didn’t think about scheduling time to laugh. It sounds absurd. Now it’s part of my self-care. Going to see a funny show with girlfriends—sometimes the more irreverent the better—is an investment in my healing. Its importance has been elevated.

Intense grief work follows great loss: the grief and loss books and even movies, the groups and gatherings, and the journaling. Peppering in some hilarity is pretty much essential; to me, anyway.