In May of 2011, my beloved mom, Rosemary Ames, passed away three years after a recurrence of breast cancer. It was my first real experience with loss and I was not prepared. I thought I was ready. I was a forty year-old mother of two with a supportive husband, a close immediate and extended family and a strong network of friends. I’d had three years since her diagnosis knowing that at some point she would die. As her illness progressed, there was preemptive grief, which I naively thought would make it easier when she was gone. Yet her death and the aftermath shook me to my core. “The mind may prepare for what it knows is inevitable, but the heart can not.” To say I was surprised by the depth and intensity of the grieving experience is an understatement. So, like many others have done before, I plodded my way through a process that was uneven, confusing and isolating, but that also caused me to grow and develop in ways I hadn’t expected.
Since I couldn’t run for basically nine months following her death (chest too tight = no air), I found myself walking and doing a lot of yoga. I was guided through my healing on the mat by two gifted yoginis, Karyn Holland and Rena Chase. My heart would ache and tears would stream down my face, but I always felt so much better at the end of class and found it one of the most comforting things I did during that first year. Along with yoga, I spent time out in nature. I wrote in a journal. I read books about loss and healing. As I began compiling helpful articles, nuggets of wisdom and inspiring quotes, the idea of a “grief manual” slowly took shape. An online version gradually revealed itself as the most logical form. If any of these pages provide help or comfort to someone in a time of need then I will consider the site a success.
This website is dedicated to Rosie. In her life and death, she has taught me so much and I am forever grateful. I miss her every day, but her spirit continues to guide and inspire me. Since I built this website in her honor, a photo tribute seems fitting. I’d also like to give special thanks to Wendy, Emily, Gemma and Poppy for their help with this project.
When I next experience the death of a loved one and grief re-enters my life, I want to be able to say, “Hello, old friend.” I now see grief as a necessary path, an inevitable part of life that comes with so many potential silver linings and opportunities for transformation. It reminds me of the Rumi poem Guest House, which tells us to welcome our sorrows as they are here to teach us. Grief is a teacher. Our biggest heartbreaks can be our biggest lessons, but grieving takes courage. We know peeling back those layers of hurt and sadness will expose us, and temporarily open us to deeper suffering. Courage allows us to continue on that path, through the wilderness of grief and the dark nights, and then come out on the other side. We won’t be the same person that entered the woods; our grief will have shaped and changed us. The gifts of the process can be more perspective, wisdom, greater compassion and empathy for ourselves and others.
In hindsight, I see this process as my mom’s final gift to me.
May the sun bring you new energy by day.
May the moon softly restore you by night.
May the rain wash away your worries.
May the breeze blow new strength into your being.
May you walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life.