On 17/7/17 my partner of 17 years died. I was lying by his side as he took his last breath. It was not entirely unexpected but it was tumultuous, as was he. He was a complex person, full to the brim of life, love, laughter, so many thoughts and words, and yet always with a darkness and haunted sadness behind his blue eyes. I always knew that our time together was precious and finite and so I drank in every single sweet moment, we left nothing unsaid, we left nothing undone.
During the year before his death sharing life with him was difficult to say the least, many hidden secrets were revealed and I began to completely know the full extent of his already tortured existence in this world. I already knew him so well, and now I know the whole of him, his death being the release from suffering which he felt was the only answer. Knowing him as I did I understand completely why he felt this.
This may seem strange to some people, but it has helped me so much. Death produces a process which none of us truly understand. It also reminds us of our own mortality. So why do we grieve? Not for the person who has died but for ourselves, because we will no longer hold their hand, feel their heartfelt embrace, share words, feelings, thoughts and space with them. Grief is really about us, the ones that are left ‘behind’.
I have used many different ways to process what I was feeling, from writing poetry and prose, painting on canvas, sound healing, massage, Ayurveda, Yoga, chiropractor to full on partying until I was emotionally and physically exhausted. All of these things, including the hedonistic stuff, helped me to get out of my head, mind and body, and then to return home to myself once again. It wasn’t easy, and to most people it will have appeared that I wasn’t feeling what I was expected to feel, believe me I was, but I was also allowing myself to process stuff as it was in whatever way I felt was best for me.
In my grief I had no expectations of how I would feel or behave. I took each moment as it arrived and did what I felt I needed at that time.
From hiding away, to needing to constantly be with people and party so I would feel vibrantly alive, from moment to moment. Amazing people who I already knew have as a result have become incredible friends, who fully accept me however I am, whoever I am. This in itself is such a gift.
He had specific wishes for his body after his death. No funeral, no starched collared official who didn’t know him talking about him. Not a coffin, not in any box. Thanks to amazing creative maverick friends I was able to carry out all of these requests. I felt this was such an honour, to be able to continue in the spirit of him, unique, non conformist, amazingly beautiful and inspiring.
The goddess Kali is an ever growing facet in my life journey, more so than ever for me now. She can seem fearsome to some. It is said that when you call upon her and invite her energy that she will ruthlessly reveal all truths to you, removing veils of illusion, clearing out anything which is not serving you and creating space for new energy to come in. It’s an absolute sweeping away of the whole life circumstance. This may seem a strange view of things for some but it’s helped me immensely and I know that this revealing and cleansing comes from a place of great compassion. Kali only wants us to live up to our full potential, to be vibrantly alive, and sometimes in order to do this what no longer serves us has to go.
Compassion also comes in the form of Chenrezig, Buddha of compassion. This focus is used to help those who have suffered to move on after their death into the next realm and to help those of us still here to lead a more consciously compassionate life for the sake of all sentient beings. There is no compassion without suffering. With great suffering can come the capacity for great compassion, for when the heart is completely broken open it is open to give and receive so fully.
And how long do we grieve for? A part of me will always miss his physical presence, but I know that his energy, his spirit is always around me, and I know that he wants me to live, really live. I have been set free and have a whole vast adventure ahead of me.
So will I be judged if I take another lover within a few weeks or if I laugh or if I dance? Maybe, but I don’t care, I’m rewriting grief my way.
There’s been a purging, moving from our home, a cathartic release of emotional and materialist ties. A questioning about what life is about, in particular the many the possessions we acquire. It’s all meaningless at the end. He would say ‘the best you can hope for us to be loved whilst you’re here and missed when you’ve gone.’ He had that.
We never followed the ‘rules’ him and I, from the moment we met. I’ve learned and will continue to learn so much from him, in life and in death. I have been given this as one of life’s great lessons and so I fully embrace all that it is, all that I am in every sweet beautiful moment that I am alive to love, dance and laugh. I embrace fully the emotions, the initial fear and incredible pain, the aliveness of everything. I see such beauty now in every single moment, sunshine and rain, green leaves, the ocean and the stars. I feel this that completes me, this total appreciation of all that is and I will be living life to its fullest and most fruitful until I too one day will die.
Jai Kali Ma. Om Mane Padme Hum. Hari Om Tat Sat.