I first heard the term "#Grief Needs Beauty" when the spunky gal who took our engagement photos in 2011 (ergo an acquaintance/person-whose-blog-I-stalk) lost her dear mother to breast cancer in January.
"Why does grief need beauty?" I naively thought.
She took pictures of pink sunsets, flowers, tea sets, and artwork that inspired her. Being a photographer, I thought maybe that is just how she was processing her loss, visually.
I did not know then how ugly death could be.
Little did I know that in just two short months I would visit my Grandmother Lee for the last time and see the ugliness that ovarian cancer had wrecked on her usually dignified and upright body. Little did I know that I would lose my own mother suddenly for no explicable reason and how ugly that would make me feel inside and out. Little did I know that I would have to move the rug over the blood on her floor while we sorted through her things to keep, donate, or sell. Little did I know the ugliness that death would bring out in certain people whom I loved.
After suffering the severe loss of my dear Grandmother Lee last week, I had to cry uncle to my boss. Before my work had been a welcome distraction and means to focus me away from my grief… though admittedly it was really tough.
But losing my Grandmother put me over the edge. I cowered on the floor under my desk because I felt so low and because both of the beds in my house had been piled high with my mother’s belongings just that morning so we could vacuum the floor.
I asked for a two week unpaid sabbatical which she graciously granted. With the incomprehensive grief, a small child, and the onus of handling my mother’s estate, I haven’t had time to keep my normally organized household up to even my lowest standards nor process a lot of the complicated emotions and relationships I have been grappling with. My husband, John, has been amazingly supportive, and I find his past experience with sudden loss extremely Providential, however, grief is very isolating and losing a parent its own unique experience.
Last week, I retreated to my in-laws so they could take care of my son (John was out of town for work) and then I flew by myself to Texas to honor my Grandmother and spend time with my dear brother.
This week, I am seeking beauty.
I am cleaning and organizing my house: an orderly house is beautiful to me.
I am reading my mother’s journals, finishing her scrapbook, and celebrating her beauty inside and out.
I am gathering momentos from my beautiful Grandmother Lee from around my house and am eagerly awaiting the items I picked out from her apartment on Friday and had shipped (with insurance) by UPS.
I plan to go to an antique store to find a beautiful wooden chest, my own variation of a hope chest. In it, I will store my mother’s journals and some of the precious items that remind me of my grandmother and mother…these two women who made me who I am today. I want to be able to visit them when I miss them and I hope this chest will help. Don’t worry I’m not hiding everything away. I have photos and momentos of them all over my house already…the most mundane things remind me of them both…but I’d like to visit them and since they are both buried in Texas, I need this chest.
I hope this week is also filled with long walks, reading, and yoga and the beginning of some peace for my weary soul.
Psalm 34:17-18 “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.”
Beauty is transcendental and gives hope of a world beyond this broken one.
I also seek beauty because grief is so isolating…especially when you lose a parent all too soon. It’s a small club. I now follow online two fellow soldiers (Kristen, the above mentioned acquaintance/photographer) and an old friend from college who lost her mother suddenly in November.
Transcendental beauty makes me relate to the artist or our Creator and reminds me that I am indeed not alone.