How Do We Mourn?

“How do we mourn so many, so much? How do we stay alive and awake? How do we allow joy and belonging to refuel our living?”

How do we mourn the elder, mourn the husband, mourn the wife, mourn the partner, mourn the lover, mourn the mother, mourn the father, mourn the sister, mourn the brother, mourn the daughter, mourn the son, so many, so legion?

How do we stay alive and awake in hurricane winds, earthquakes, fires, and floods of loss and grief? How do we allow joy to refuel our living?

We dress and cover our heads in gossamer white or black or purple or yellow or red. 

We face north. We face west. We face south. We face west. We pour libations. We light the sage. We fan the smoke above our heads, upon our foreheads, our hearts, our feet.  

We pray in thanks giving to our goddesses and gods in the names of our ancestors, our fore-mothers and fore-fathers, all those who have gone before us, those of us still living and those who are coming to us. 

We speak, we cry out the names of our beloveds who recently returned as we pour raw honey into clay or glass jars. When the naming has ended, when the crying out quiets, we seal the jars with cork or lid.

Just before a late setting sun, we go to the unceasing sea or the levees that holds back the surging waters of mighty rivers 

We bring miles and miles of wild flowers and vines we have braided and tied with long grasses. We place our perique tobacco, pipes, flasks of peach and blackberry brandy, smudge pots of sage and rosemary, and candles set on banana leaves to the water’s edge.

We build and light miles and miles of fires along the long wide waters. 

We face the setting sun as it casts it last golden amethyst light. We light the fires until they crackle, pop and dance hot and bright. We walk out into water, enter to our knees. We place our offerings in the waters and light our floating candles. We let our flowers go into the water last.

We walk backward, away from the water. When we reach the edge between water and land, we announce our beloved ones’ arrival, celebrate their welcoming, their return to our original homes.

We cry out their names in farewell, from us, this place, this time, all suffering, into their next journeys, understanding, our pasts are always before us, the places we constantly re–meet. 

And when we have completed our farewells, we shout out into joy all the spaces and places our beloveds occupy within us, their smile, their laugh, their touch, their scent, their brilliant knowings and….….

We feast, we dance, we drum, we sing and we tell stories in the glow of lighted fires, shadows at our backs. We honor our beloved ones gone. We rejoice with each other still here.

We stay until morning’s first light.

We make sure the fires are completely out, pack up and clean up in high regard of our loved ones gone, our earth, ourselves, and each other. We hug. We kiss. We say our goodbyes.

We are filled with the delight, food, drink, drumming, dancing, laughing, stories, each other, and we become weary. And, we still grieve as the minutes, the hours, the days, the months, and the years pass. 

And, we live.

We live because life and joy fuel our stubborn biological, psychic and spiritual insistence that we go on. 

We do not forget. We never forget. 

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