Phone Your Grief In
Don't let the subhead throw you a curve. I'm not abandoning my view of attacking your grief and saying phone it in ‘don’t run from grief or ignore it because within the thorns resides beauty’. So don't phone it in. Instead use a phone booth.
A piece from KRQE in Albuquerque, NM about a phone booth in Museum of the American Military Family in Tijeras, NM. Military Families who lost a loved one can use a phone booth in the museum and call those who died. (This is not a magical working phone.) It is a place, a moment, a stop where we can plumb the depths of our grief to speak with a loved one. It frees internal repetative hamster wheel of grief thoughts that if left within us festers. The internal dialogue of grief released aids us in understanding love and loss.
While reading this article I remember there was a podcast on This American Life from 2016 called "Really Long Distance". One segment discusses a phone booth near the Fukushima nuclear accident where family members can step inside a non working phone booth to call a loved one who died. The purpose is to help someone who is struggling with grief talk about and with the person they are grieving. Here is another link at Good Feed.
I know following Donna's death I would speak with her in my mind. I still find myself calling out 'Oh Donna' at home when I'm reminded of her by an item I see or if I am doing something I wished she was there to help or just tease me about how ineptd I can be. The really important exercise and work I do with my grief is my writing, the blog, posting, and the book. For me that is phoning in my grief on a very personal level.
I can absolutly see how phone booths like these are effective tools to help those who may be gently pecking at the edges of their grief like the beak on a hummingbird reaching for the nectar and insects within the flower of a Bee Balm. We can all benefit and be nourished from addressing our grief either with a phone booth, writing, art, talking, sharing, and more.
The Art of Grief
I found this article from Electric Lit about Casey Middaugh an artist and founder of Good Mourning. Good Mourning is a pop up gallery of art, performance series, and speakers where visitors can find a space to experience and process our grief through art.
The big picture (no pun) for me and this speaks to my view on grief. Telling our stories out loud no matter what form over time has a cummulative effect on our understanding of many things. Our loud and proud grief journey is key to knowledge about ourselves, our loved ones, and the world around us. I have always believed that holding things in and letting them roll around in your mind never really materalize in something we can use or advance our love. It's like having a dialogue with someone who is not there. Pointless with no Spock logic.
I would like to see more of these pop-up grief galleries. It would be wonderful to speak with those who created pieces. Ask what they felt when they created something from their grief journey.
Middaugh's article details some of the stunning ideas presented. There is an exhibit of 130 bells in all shapes and sizes. Each one is labeled with things like "clipped toenails" "wiped the blood off my spouse's shoes", "write the obituary", etc. There is more to see and learn.
My view, any exercise we can take or help another take on a grief journey is gift we pay forward and give ourselves. Having experienced grief I know what it feels like, what worked for me, and what love is. If I can do that for one other I guess I don’t need to put my head in the oven
Dying and Grief What's There Not To Talk About
An article in Seattle Magazine addresses the world of Death Cafes and Death Salons and the growing area to address death and dying in a public forum. Michael Hebb addresses the topic of death and dying in a very interesting format in his book "Let’s Talk About Death (Over Dinner)".
…death as the most important conversation we’re not having. Such silence bears serious repercussions, and not only in terms of missed opportunities to connect with your loved ones. The book identifies end-of-life hospital expenses as a leading factor in American bankruptcies, Medicare patients outspending their total assets, and the sad fact that 80 percent of Americans die in hospitals, despite most wanting to die at home.
There is much to consider in this piece. Something I didn’t know was that Ernest Becker an a scholar and cultural anthropologist wrote The Denial of Death which won the 1974 Pulitzer Prize. His book examines the unique human awareness of death and what that does to our behavior.
To Becker, who saw death anxiety as a key driver in everything from religion and culture to our choices of partners and jobs, knowledge of our inevitable passing also drives each person to embark on an “immortality project,” or a quest to fill our lives with meaning. “Meaning has to last beyond our demise, our physical demise, so it could be making children, writing books, being good at your job, being a war hero, being a terrorist,” says Jacobs, noting Becker’s diverse appeal.
I think that those of us who have witnessed the death of a loved one we are more attuned to death and the after effects of grief. Those of us on a grief journey can bring much to these discussions for others and ourselves.