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  • Dr. Vin

No Zen Grief Today



I can’t seem to draw, which often makes me feel better – as an avenue of expressing difficult feelings. I’m sunk in sadness. I feel very melancholic. It hit me hard today. This would be Mom’s 100th birthday. She died at age 88 in 2006. I have been working on a Wizard of Oz puzzle just to do something. Maybe if I finish the puzzle border, I will feel a little more chipper. Not happening. So I take a walk. Nature, which in the last week has sung with brilliant lights and darks, now looks just as draggy as I feel. I stare into the canyon. Trees and bushes are so still. Compelled to stand there, trees are rooted in one place, unable to move. Then the wind blows and some leaves must move, like they are being pushed around. No purpose, no power of their own. Dulled, heavy, sad, weighted, like this grief I carry that cannot be snapped out of by work or play or nature or anything today. On my walk, I wish

for this day to be over, even though I am supposed to embrace this moment. This moment seems too miserable.

The only good thing was that a neighbor’s dog, also out for a walk, “wants to say hello” said the owner. I have seen this “couple” for years and we’ve never interacted before today. I like to think Bridget (I asked and that is the dog’s name) sensed my mood and wanted to comfort me.

The other saving grace was sharing with siblings, some honoring our mother by wearing her black and red colors, or her earrings, or sending pictures of yellow roses, Mom’s favorite. Then someone’s text appreciating Mom made me cry. Two others said they feel melancholy too and I made a few calls to get comfort and share the sadness. This cuts the pain a little. In the evening I was touched by photos of three of my brother’s who took flowers to the cemetery and photos of other siblings eating lemon meringue pie, Mom’s favorite dessert.

I remember crying in each other’s arms at Mom’s funeral and writing something in a poem about the similarity of our grief being the only thing that saves me. Keeps me on the planet. A sister just called me. She went to the movies to distract from her sadness and still feels bad. She admitted, “I can’t wait for this day to be over.” I had to abandon my Zen ideal of being deeply in the moment and agree, “Me too.”

Two Momisms: She used to say, “Don’t eat your bed” which was passed on from generations before. It meant: do not get lost in grief or depression. Get up, get out of bed. Go do something – move your body, work, play, take care of someone else, do something creative. So this wallowing around she would not approve of. The other thing she said that I find more helpful for today is, “this too shall pass.” This means hold on until tomorrow, as your mood may lift with the passage of time.

Even though I am a big proponent of accepting feelings as they arise and having a good cry if you need to, today I just need to get through this day. At least I take that lesson from you Mom, that I can know this too will pass and that gives me hope that tomorrow will indeed be a better day, where some color returns to the trees.

POSTSCRIPT: Last night after I wrote this, my husband came home from meditation, and silently handed me two lemons from a tree at the Zendo. Pie anyone?