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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

grieving Archives

chicken soup, roast beef and ginger scones

No, I didn’t make ginger scones to go w/ the roast beef. That would just be…odd. Obviously, none of the three go…together. That’s not the point, is it? I made the chicken soup yesterday. Since we didn’t have baking powder, […]

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grieving in the real world

This is what grief looks like when you have a child — an everyday Saturday in the park, giving your not-quite-two-year-old exactly what he needs: sunlight and attention. Something that’s been in short supply these past few days. Grief when […]

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some periods you just breathe through…

At times like this, I don’t know what I’d do w/out tonglen. When I’m grieving for a loved one’s unhappiness, or breathing through my own, I remember: all over the world there is suffering. I know – how hokey is that? […]

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a bardo for Richard

My friend Richard died this week. Tuesday, to be precise. And in light of that precision, he was really my sister’s friend, at least at first. But because we ended up talking across her FB page, we became friends too. […]

mourning a mentor and friend

It feels like my world is losing important pieces, lately. A death here, a death there, a third one just behind them. A lot of friends, colleagues, and the family of both have taken wing. Elsewhere. Wherever the dead go. […]

time runs away from us

An old and dear friend lost her husband yesterday. Walking together to his work, she must have watched as he fell to the ground with a heart attack, his second in two years. He was dead by the time they […]

no, love is NOT enough

 “In this world where everything will not turn out okay, where the anything that is possible is not in our hands, the real deal is to, nonetheless, look deep into who we really are, and then from that place, reach […]

what helps…

Remember the old Beatles song? The one that begins When I find myself in times of trouble…? It’s Let It Be, from the white album. And while Mother Mary isn’t my default for times of sorrow and trouble, poetry is. […]

in memoriam…

There is little left to say about the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Except that many died, and we lost a kind of global innocence. When tragedy struck, I took refuge in poetry, ultimately. Because there is also little that […]

letting go, tonglen, and what we can’t fix ~

My cat is dying. And my dog is crazy. Really. I wish I were kidding. My cat is nowhere near as old as other cats — only 13. I have friends whose cats lived to 19, even 20. Mine is […]

day #17 of National Poetry Month ~

Poetry always helps me with grief. With rage at injustice, with loss. With all the sorrows — as well as joys — of human existence. Today’s poem is for the many victims rippling out from the horrific centre of the […]

day 6, National Poetry Month ~

 Elizabeth Bishop is another poet who is easy to love. She makes her art almost invisible, effortless. Like those invisible zippers that hold the pieces together… This is a poem I return to again & again. It’s a villanelle — […]

holy days, fire & faith ~

It is Good Friday.  It is Holy Week. It is Passover. And other faiths, too — more individual, more isolate — also bear witness to death and redemption. In California, a dear friend still mourns the death of his beloved. […]

friendship, funerals, & the bus people ~

Today is my friend Carol’s memorial service. It will be held in the chapel where I was married, on the campus where Carol, her husband , and most of my family — including my husband & I — went to […]

tragedy, great sorrow, and the breath ~

I have nothing to say after a tragedy of this magnitude. My heart hurts — I have to catch my breath, thinking of sending a child or children off to school, and never seeing them again… My mind races: what […]

ashes to ashes… we all fall down ~

Two friends who attend my church — or at least what I think of as ‘my’ church, despite not attending it w/ any degree of frequency! — lost their nephew today. Lost him in a pool of dark red blood […]

grief, tragedy, & holding each other in the light ~

Sometimes, the heart is incapable of filling futher. It can’t even break, it’s so full. The Quakers, when things are very hard, hold you in the light. And for each of us, ‘the light’ may be different. But this week, […]

death & loss & grief & rites of passage ~

My cousin’s son died this past weekend. Killed instantly, with his best friend, in a tragic car accident. He was 25. A funeral is no celebration of life when the dead are young. Their lives cut short by the snick […]

mother love, schadenfreude, & beginner’s heart ~

It’s no secret that I love my students.  And even now, when not one of them sits in circle in a classroom w/ me, they remain ‘my students.’ A kind of extended family — almost like nieces & nephews, if […]

the winter of loss ~

I’m reading Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart. She notes that death makes way for birth, and that birth follows death. In my family, we’ve always believed (a kind of Oklahoma folk belief :)) that when one passes, another comes. […]

boxes & wet ink ~

Sometimes, when things really cut deep, I try to compartmentalise. I want to be the oyster: coat pain and irritation w/ something soothing, wall it off. I wish the boxes produced pearls… Other times, everything bleeds together. A bit like […]

death, life, & memory ~

A former student, sharing sad news with me, paid me a lovely compliment this past week. First he told me of his mother’s impending death from cancer. Then he said: I knew you’d want to know. And – I thought […]

questioning death and impermanence ~

My students are struggling with death. This has been a week where two have lost childhood friends — close friends — within 48 hours. Their grief, disbelief, and questions fill the classroom. Why? they ask me. It isn’t fair. I’m […]

an impersonal universe: when bad things happen to people we love ~

I wish I thought the universe granted personal requests. That what I want matters in the huge scheme of things. If I knew of a sure-fire way to get the universe to pay attention (short of violence, which always triggers […]

Warning: poetry follows ~

Sometimes when bad news comes, all that helps is writing poetry. Even the stronger, most eloquent poetry of others isn’t enough. That upwelling has to be voiced, and poetry is all that helps. This was one of those weeks: a […]

‘takotsubo': broken heart syndrome ~

Once, many years ago, I made it through the night breath by breath. I remember laying in the twin bed next to my mother and thinking: one more breath. just one more breath. And I thought: you can die of […]

when tragedy strikes ~

Each of these stories from the Tuscaloosa tornado is enough to make you cry. But what’s more important? How each man and woman found a way to go forward, to help. To be there for others…

two years after ~

When I tell people — sometimes even close friends — that I miss my father-in-law at least as much as my own father, they react in two ways:  Some flat don’t believe me. Others want to know why, as if […]

“Landscape of the heart” ~

A lovely website that has beautiful, whimsical drawings and inspirational short ‘stories.’ This one helps as I miss my father-in-law today ~ Landscape of the Heart (Masculine) It is still so new & all we see is the empty space, […]

Previous Posts

unexpected treasures
This is a bat house. While this one isn't the one currently in my garage, awaiting its move to Virginia, it looks much like ours will look in a few years: ...

posted 1:15:47pm Jul. 30, 2015 | read full post »

making friends with (at?) work
Because of the upcoming move, I've scaled back on many activities I love, including several non-profits. Friday, the head of one I particularly enjoy asked if ...

posted 5:49:17pm Jul. 27, 2015 | read full post »

temper temper
I'm probably going to get a LOT of pushback on this, but at least in my family, men have worse tempers than the rest of us. And they don't believe ...

posted 12:36:21pm Jul. 24, 2015 | read full post »

In Praise of Teachers Under Attack, reprised
I am so sick of anti-teacher ignorance that I could spit, as my Aunt Bonnie would have said. “It’s nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher.” No. No, no, ...

posted 1:52:52pm Jul. 23, 2015 | read full post »

moving toward light: opening up and letting go
Photographers have a term for when there's not light to shoot a picture. It's called 'opening up': you increase the aperture -- the hole through which ...

posted 1:42:11pm Jul. 22, 2015 | read full post »

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