September 2nd is approaching; the anniversary of my father’s suicide.
It’s been nineteen years—yes, nineteen— and I still never know how that day will arrive. Some years the sorrow of loss starts gathering early. It might appear days, even weeks, beforehand, and is persistent like the dense fog that clings to these late August mornings—heavy and opaque.
Other years the date, though permanently circled on the calendar in invisible red ink, passes undetected by my emotional radar and I awake on September 3rd surprised by a guilt-tinged realization that I didn’t think of September 2nd at all. But those years are rare.
But today, August 21st, marks a different anniversary from that same year that I rarely talk about. It’s the anniversary of the day my father wrote his suicide notes.
Continue reading “The Last Lost Days of August”
Just before Christmas I received an order for five XIZOZU: Loss of Wife, Loss of Sister, Loss of Daughter, Loss of Mother, Caregiver.
I got teary. Instantly.
It was impossible to miss the far-reaching impact that the passing of this one woman had in her world.
I was glad to create medals that would be reminders of each of those sacred connections and also containers for the love that could no longer be physically expressed. I poured all my comforting energy into each of those medals.
It’s easy to forget how deeply each of us touches so many others on a given day, in a given lifetime. As I packaged the order up for delivery I whispered a promise to myself to be better about valuing each of spaces I occupy in other people’s lives.
Have you thought about how many roles you fill in your everyday life? The list grows quickly once you start making it. Believe me.
Thanks for reading,
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In designing XIZOZU Medals of Honor I have to explore some of life’s most gut-wrenching events, and present them in a meaningful design, intended for people who would rather not have earned them.
And while I am reasonably comfortable with death as a broad concept—you know, when it’s quietly slipped into like a favorite robe after a long and fulfilling life. There are all those other instances of death that are impossible to grasp and that make us different people. The loss of a child, of any age, tops the list.
Having no children of my own I can’t come close to comprehending the depth of such a loss. How does one take that unimaginable the first step on the path of recovery after losing a child? There is no road map for this kind of loss. Everyone must wander through their own dense fog of despair in whatever way their heart urges until it finally begins to lift. The inner strength required to simply lift one’s head and look at the world after such devastation is incalculable to me. But somehow remarkably, people—parents—do it.
During design research for my Loss of a Child XIZOZU medal, I came across thousands of pages and posts about working through the grief of this tragedy. (I link to many of them here.) I had to sit in a lot of my own discomfort while reading the poignant personal stories of parents emerging after deeply traumatic loss. Admittedly, my unease didn’t even register on the human heartache scale compared with those I was reading about.
By reading this post: What I Wish More People Understood About Losing A Child, I gained a clearer understanding of the role of those supporting a grieving parent. The author, Paula Stevens, who has experienced this agony herself, offers suggestions for ways to support bereaving parents. Her brief straightforward list is rich in first-hand advice on ways we can best comfort those struggling with this grief, including the importance of understanding that it’s not something that ever fully heals.
I learned how how important it is that their children not be forgotten. That they are kept alive through memories; that they are talked about. After several weeks of producing designs that only came close or outright failed, I finally created one that honors the parent, the child, and the sacred connection they’ll eternally share. It was among the most challenging things I will ever attempt.
As it should be.