Thursday, December 11, 2008


"Going to the woods and the wild place has little to do with recreation, and much to do with creation."
(Wendell Berry)

Six Needs of Mourning:

1. Accept the reality of the death.
2. Let yourself feel the pain of the loss.
3. Remember the person who died.
4. Develop a new self-identity.
5. Search for meaning.
6. Let others help you -- now and always.

(p. 88, from UNDERSTANDING YOUR GRIEF, Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D.)

(I found the little cypress tree here.)

(The cypress is associated with the god of the underworld. The cypress is an evergreen, cone-bearing tree whose branches are often meant to represent grief or mourning.

On December 11, 1970, three days after RTN returned from Vietnam, an exhibit of drawings and paintings by Vincent van Gogh opened at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Sometime between December 11 and January 31, RTN and I waited in line in the winter sun to see that exhibit which must have included The Starry Night, with its cypress tree in the foreground. I am eternally grateful to RTN for bringing me to see that exhibit. I remember standing in front of one of the self-portraits and thinking, "We are all standing where Vincent van Gogh once stood." There WERE good days after he returned from Vietnam. That was one of them. It was on that day that we sat together on a bench between the museum and the Steinhart Aquarium and looked up to see a crow skip by in the way happy children do. We looked at each other and began to laugh in delight. Each time our eyes met we laughed harder.

On Joy and sorrow, by Kahlil Gibran (the Prophet)

Then a woman said, speak to us of Joy and Sorrow. And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep on your bed


Zhoen said...

The best way I have ever found to deal with grief is to tell the stories, and remember with laughter. The tears hurt less bubbled up in delighted memory.

am said...

"Delighted memory." Yes, that's it.