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Understanding Grief

Grief: A Grown Up Sandbox

grief mandala

Grief can be a mysterious thing. It just kinda wants to pour though me like water or sand. It’s wordless. As soon as I try to put my hands around it, it squishes out the sides, escaping in grains or droplets.

When my mother died I found myself wanting to simply touch things over and over again. She was a quilter and the act of sorting her fabric, stack after stack of it, soothed me in some deep, smoky place. The more I sorted, the more the clouds cleared.

My brother died and I walked beside the Oregon coastline collecting black stones. I’d pick them up and set them down. Up and down I’d bend. Into my hand those stones went and back out again. Just like life. There was something visceral about putting the physical rhythm into my hands – into the bending of my body – which no words could accomplish.

grief roses out grief bowl half empty grief bowl empty

I’ve made myself this Grown-Up Sandbox to be my altared space when there are no words.

I walk down my road collecting blades of grass or I fold to gather up a stone or pinecone. Sometimes I open my cupboard of treasures from trips to see what memories want to come out to play. Seashells meet sage. Strands of beads intertwine with feathers left behind from birds.

My hands dig and filter, lolling about in the texture. They like it here. I play and mingle and somehow my mind calms. Allowing the seashore to meet with the mountaintops here in this bowl under my fingertips has quieted what my heart can’t understand.

The world is round. It all  belongs together. Words don’t help to figure that out, but playing in a sandbox with my grown up toys calms what the words don’t know how to say.

grief bowl with reflection

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One Comment

  • Isn’t it interesting that our senses give us comfort in mysterious ways? I’ve thought about certain smells or music conjuring up a memory that fills me with comfort in the same way you describe the sense of touch in this post.

    We go through grief when we lose something or someone, but through our memories, we can hold on to the love we felt. I don’t know who said it first.. I think it was Dr. Seuss: Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.