the shadow

as the decades pass we lose friends, acquaintances, family. they are all called “beloved”, even those that weren’t...or who weren’t a lot of the time. conscious ageing calls for awareness of all that is, including the shadows, the aspects of ourselves that we prefer not to see or to be seen. in the shadow dwell the parts of ourselves that we regard as shameful, ugly, harmful. there we find that which is unhealed and raw.

in the context of a loss, what do we do with the shadow that dwells inside? what of the anger, even rage we might feel toward the person who has died? what of the frustration and resentment? what of the unexpressed issues and hurts? what of the relief that might come at the person’s death? can these be acknowledged inwardly and outwardly? where is the safe space to say these things that are “speaking ill of the dead”?

while the public face of mourning and grief might demand we speak only of the person’s good deeds, their humility, their great (and not so great) accomplishments, their generosity, what can we do with their miserliness, their lack of personal skills, their insensitivity, their need to control?

how do we acknowledge these aspects of the deceased so that they remain a whole person? so that we can remain whole?

person walking in shadow of trees.jpg


walk in the shadows refrain from the bright sunlight stay indoors under shelter lick the wounds speak the hurt, the pain, the relief perform personal rituals, away from the gaze of others withdraw into the shell of protection sit with friends who can hear and hold these feelings take relaxing baths eat what nurtures and gives comfort drink many cups of calming infusions be fully authentic and true to yourself

until it is finished until it is safe to go outside in the sunshine again until the sun itself beckons your presence until the need for company arises until the desire to be amongst people calls until the rituals have become dry until the desire for comfort feels oppressive until the desire for a shower arises until the need for stimulation is present until it is right until it is true until it is real