Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Funny Thing About Grief

In the midst of reorganizing my home office, I found, forgotten in one of the cabinets, the sewing machine my mother had bought for me during her before-last visit to the States. That was seven years ago, exactly, and the time when I started noticing that not all was well with her mental state. The mind, my mind instantly went to a place of sorrow. And I got to watch the way grief creates itself. 

From seeing sewing machine, to remembrance of mother buying the desired object as her going away present, to a feeling of great love. Then a flood of associated memories related to her visit, the last one in our old house. The good times spent with her and my daughters. Her attempts to cook dinners for us still, and the realization that she needed help. Her sitting at the edge of my bed one evening and sharing her ruminative thoughts about her daughter-in-law. How she nearly got lost one evening during her usual walk with Amy, our dog. My despair as I realized what lied ahead. The image of her patiently sitting at the kitchen table, as she let me make a mold of her hands. My frantic efforts at giving meaning to what was happening. The solo show I put together to honor her life. 

'In My Mother's House' (detail)
(cast bronze & embroidered cloth)
It all came back and I watched my heart go into a funk. A sewing machine, that's all it had taken to switch from a perfectly happy state to a tearful one. 

Grief can take one down. It can also heighten one's awareness of the inner workings of the deluded, desiring, aversive mind. Deluded about the truth of life and its impermanent, unsatisfactory, uncontrollable nature. Desiring what could not be had, the mother I used to know. Desperate in rejecting the reality of her  deteriorating condition. Grief is like that. It can be a great teacher.


  1. Tears and love. So close, in the landscape of our human heart . . .

  2. Thank you for sharing these tender thoughts... so beautifully written and so touching. Yet, it is there, in understanding the grief that we also strengthen our ability to feel compassion for ourselves and others... as Naomi Shihab Nye would say that to know kindness, one must first know sorrow...
    Karuna and metta...

  3. You are so right, Lori! I find love and sorrow so close in the heart. Every time I feel deep love, there is sorrow also at the realization of the possibility of loss. And whenever I feel sorrow, it is usually out of a form of love that has been lost.

  4. Experiencing mother must be nearly universal. I lost my mom nearly eleven years ago, and reading your words let loose my grief all over again, for a few moments. Thank you for sharing.

  5. My heart goes out to you, Dawn. The door to 'our' grief never completely closes, doesn't it? (unless we are like the Buddha, free from attachments)

  6. "And I got to watch the way grief creates itself." Marguerite this touches me deeply...of course like all humans, I do this too. I am becoming more aware of it as it happens, this helps to ease the length of time I spend in the dark, heavy clouds...but still I must spend time amongst the gray... part of the healing process, moving in and out with awareness.

  7. Yes, you out of all people should know . . . The sooner we catch grief arising, the more easily we can part with it.

    May you continue to dwell in poetic awareness! And may you continue to inspire many . . .