Sometimes on my walks, I even leave my phone at home.…I KNOW! Lately, I’ve been trying to imagine my phone in my hand as a strong cocktail — do I really need to take this cocktail on a walk with me? Yikes. Do I really need to have this cocktail in my hand while I’m hugging my son? Eep. Is 7am really a good time for a cocktail? Barf.
In our society, it is not acceptable for female-identified people to age. We are all downloaded with the message that we are supposed to look 20 years old forever. We get mad when our bodies begin to droop, sag, slow down, and our physical/mental abilities change.
But aging is a reminder that we are having a finite experience on the planet… and that is beautiful.
I’m not an expert on grief. I haven’t read the self-help books. I rarely take heed of anyone’s advice on how to grieve. Joan Didion famously wrote a meditation on grief that is equal parts beautiful and sad. She tells us that grief has no end, and that it’s nothing like we expect it to be. She describes the “comes in waves” phenomenon, which nobody can quite nail down in words but everyone knows exactly what it means when it’s said.
I can’t compare my grief to ocean waves, however. For me, it’s more like a car crash that you see coming but are helpless to stop — one that leaves you damaged and scarred, inside and out.
When I found out Anthony Bourdain took his own life, I was in shock. I still am. I cried all day. I’m crying now. My shock doesn’t come from a place of ignorance; I have clinical depression myself, and I’ve been medicated for a couple of years. I’ve worked hard to change my habits so that they help my mental health. Overall, it’s working. But there are still days, weeks, months when things are bleak…
My funeral is going to be at a Dairy Queen. I can just envision everyone eating Blizzards (hopefully Turtles!), sharing stories of their memories with me while my favourite ’90s playlist is blaring in the background (while someone is yelling “the music is too loud, can someone turn it down?!”). Of course, my ideas may change closer to when I die, hopefully in 60 years from now.
Luckily, the concept of an unconventional funeral is on the rise.
My sister has written to me asking if I’d be a pallbearer at her funeral. She is terminally ill with only a few months to live. I love her. She lives 6,000 miles away. I have, over the past few years, travelled to see her on a few occasions, the last a while back, really to say good-bye.
I’m an emotional person, not very strong, and I’m afraid and the thought of travelling 12,000 miles round-trip to attend a funeral does not appeal to me. How on earth do I say no without hurting her feelings whilst she is still with us? Please help me — even if to say I should just be strong and attend the funeral.
“Where grief and celebration meet”: This end of life pet photo session will break and warm your heart
Beth pulled me aside in her veterinary practice and with tears in her eyes told me that she’d found a mass on Sawyer. It would not be long until he was gone. She wanted photos to capture his unique spirit, before he passed.
In Beth’s grief journey, she made a bucket list for Sawyer and brazenly checked every goddamn thing off of it twice. So we set to making the bucket list part of the photo celebration of his life…
Death is natural, and having concerns about death is natural. What isn’t natural is entirely rejecting the reality of the human condition and refusing to talk about death.
This is a tough topic, but here are a few things that might be helpful…