WATER AND GRIEF
My world broke on July 4, 2011. My dad – the most important person in the world to me – died suddenly from a heart attack. He was my mentor, my friend, my spiritual teacher. And he was gone. Forever. I was in heart wrenching agony. I had no idea how to cope with the emotions flying at me every minute – resentment, anger, despair, loneliness, guilt, complete emptiness.
Books didn’t help me understand what I was feeling. People didn’t know how to approach and support me. I decided that in order to deal with loss, I would have to find my own way of coping.
I began to heal by exploring every emotion I experienced, feeling my way through each of them. I captured my journey in journal entries, emails to friends and notes from counseling sessions. There were some emotions that were too difficult to deal with at first and lingered like shadows. Four months after my Dad passed I decided to go back to the dark emotions that plagued me the most – despair, loneliness, hopelessness and Anger – and dig into them so I could finally be released from the pain and be able to move on. In order to do this, I embarked on a journey with my dear friend and photographer, James, to capture these experiences on camera, called The Ashes Project.
Crying and keening in the shower, bathtub and in the ocean have become essential to my processing sadness, anger and grief. Water has the ability to hold my emotions without judgement and be my own personal space to release.
THE ART OF KEENING
SPECIAL THANKS TO
James Wrona, the talented photographer and friend who worked with me to create and capture grief in visuals. After I lost my Dad I needed a way to work through my grief and be able to see and experience it visually. Over the course of 2011, starting six months after Dad's death, James photographed the overwhelming emotions of death and grief. Our underlying motivation was to illustrate that grief – the pain, anger, and despair – is something that everyone goes through. And that dealing with grief is what makes us human.
Mary Yahle, my grief counselor for teaching me the practice of keening and encouraging me to use it throughout my grief journey to tap into and release sorrow, sadness, anger and pain.