Life Layer Grief

I lost my big brother Steven to a heart attack a week ago. He was a father, brother, uncle, grandfather, friend. He was engaged to be married. 62 years old. Seems pretty young to me.

He was spontaneous and non-linear. He was a magical, artistic sprite.

This week, I felt very sad and cried a lot of tears. By myself, and with friends and family. Good grief feels pure to me. It’s at the life layer. It’s not something to be avoided. It’s my truth and is something that I want to explore. I mean, really, what else could be any more important?

Lots of people reflexively say “Oh, you’ll get through this, soon enough.” To where? I want the wild rapids of grief, anger, despair, and yes some ecstasy and joy. I don’t want a nice, quiet life that is under control. I’ve had that for far too long.

I read this poem at my brother’s funeral. Captures him and what I feel now too. Much gratitude is what I’m resting in now.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~ Mary Oliver ~

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