For the last few days I’ve been wondering and wandering around how to get reconnected to you, my peeps of Navigating Grief while I honor the place that is my current life. Is my work in grief or is it after? Yes and Yes. I sit in this waning December and the approaching new year and I laugh and shake my head as the pattern of here I go again, I am excited and back on track smacks me in the face! Really? Can I do different in 2020? Why do I even continue the walk of this tale I seek to tell?
For two years I have been in an incredible shift during the US and global grief that shakes my beliefs to the core. It awakens my “Do something” or go hide. Externally forced changes –personal death of loved ones and devastating violence in our surroundings – are chaotic affronts about our own need to heal. In 2017 I penned a closely and still deeply held article titled Death and Grief for a Nation in response to the Charlottesville riot, deaths, injuries and murder of Heather Heyer (Aug. 2017). I reread it right after the Parkland Florida school shooting that killed 17, reverberated collective PTSD and forever etched us all (Feb. 2018). I returned to my own words again when I heard the thundering message “do something” in the eruptions of shared grief in Dayton Ohio and at the outrage of loss and empathy for the immigrant families at our borders (Aug. 2019). Yet in my heart’s outpouring onto paper, I have stay seated in my own little safe bubble under the guise of self-care, intergenerational healing and seemingly random studies and privilege about saving our earth, people and future. My mantra is to release it all “when the time is right,” whenever that time shows itself. Is the time approaching? I know; this is insight, no responsibility. Fear.
I bought a house in 2018 and began a major remodel that reflects just me, each choice uncovering the substance of what that might mean. Into 2019, I tore out the floors, the kitchen (heart of the home) and every door and baseboard. Each wall was wiped away of its history with new paint and color. During the upheaval and adjustments (and a local snow-mageddon), one of my brothers died. Two weeks later my first biological grandson was born. I was witness to human birth for the first time after experiences of being present for a handful of human deaths. Beautiful healthy new life entered my personal death month as husband, mother and a brother all have February exit dates since 2012, the progressive start into conscious Navigating Grief.
Starts and Stops
I was recently asked for a business card (for his friend) so I passed along the one I currently carry with a tag line of “unconventional guidance after significant loss.” It is accurate. Yet, I know the grieving person to receive it is nowhere ready for that realm and is not going to call me. I should resurrect my old brand of card I thought. The one I have personally outgrown, certainly not professionally. I felt like I have failed to meet him where he is by the description of things, although I know this isn’t true should we come face to face. Thus, my uneasiness to ask myself is it “grief or after” care I want to offer? lurked under my skin this past week. Yes remains my answer because I have traveled way down the road and now double back.
Two years ago, I left a retreat with a note in hand that said I was committed to “publishing my book” an internal lifelong must-do since I was 16! Moving from writing to publishing is a significant commitment. The blue-tape note on my wall in front of me says you have already written, edit-her! The step between writing and publishing is editing. In a long soak of printing out 250 pages of all my blogs weeks ago (my story documentation in the origins of Navigating Grief), the editor has finally shown up. Hooray! It feels different this time. This commitment is for my soul, maybe it will help yours.
However, Joan being Joan, I fall into my procrastinator’s rabbit hole of distraction (what are all those studies about anyway?) and I find myself updating and cleaning up my website – edit this too – since I might try to muster another newsletter outreach after this long absence. Then what? Will I disappoint (myself)? My distraction turned to creating a new business card which is the succinct outward message and visual for Who am I now? . Never mind that this house remodel and my self-indulgence completely obliterated most of my official business, as I sidelined ongoing communications and stepped aside from openly promoting this grief coach. Fortunately, just enough calls still come in. So yes, I can believe I am still needed, valued, remembered and keep my financial boat afloat.
The website update and the development of a new business card is a purging as much as any downsizing of house and boxes of memorabilia in a big move. I am actively remodeling Joan Hitchens and Navigating Grief in all forms! My overarching Whole-Being theory I expect to share going forward includes that our seeable Environment is a reflected alignment of our actions and thoughts. Do our inside and outside objectively match?
Beyond Who am I
I don’t want to be known as “widow” any longer, even if the word is threaded into my tapestry. Yet, I remain “a widow.” Although I have traveled past that title, I prefer to be noticed as one whole being. I know who I am now. Probably for the first time. Now, in what ways might I provide Hope from an unconventional life guided by the invisible that death asks us to articulate into meaningful form? How will I convey I sit in the depths, not live here, as I extrapolate the identity of widow and orphan for which you relate with me? The hold on and let go is what we all want and reject at the same time. In this process I painfully shut down my long-standing widow group because it was time to liberate our collective story as much as redefine our personal narratives. This might be my mission on our global grief as well: liberate and redefine.
I am showing up right now to throw my hat back into the ring, the circle actually. The circle is one teaching way to be together in spiritual and communal exploration together. The circle is the campfire of story and lives. The circle is the wedded band of eternal connection. The circle is a pattern of natural cycles – the seasons and tides and planetary movement of the universal life force. Yet if one sits in circle too long, the fire goes out. The circle needs abundant fuel. I urge a break into the closed loop circle to nudge it into a spiral path for growth. Unconventional. Mysterious. Questionable.
I know there is a bigger shift and energy that supports me in going forward — people and commitment and movement of a global changing tide. It is shift of healing by knowing myself and my beliefs and trusting that we will all be OK in the chaos of personal and collective deaths, grief and loss. My shift is the edited version of Joan 2.0 that is ready to get back to publishing on my website, holding important conversations and reaching out from a heart and viewpoint of life impacted by deaths. Death of a loved one. Death and Grief for a Nation.
I have no doubt I’ll have a few more Starts and Stops in this launch of the new version of old reliable thoughts over the next few months. The technology, including a change of platforms and communications and especially the uncontrollable algorithms of social media, are a challenge. My own patterns for following shiny baubles of permission to enjoy life and continued learning are a challenge! You are encouraged to connect with me in whatever manner you choose – directly, FB, and through upcoming opportunities as they are made available. You decide if and when the time or season is right.
I make no promises. My direction as writer is to articulate and share messages of love that is the life affirming by-product of facing deaths and grief. My offer as life coach is to hold forth hope in the possibilities that facing deaths and grief is a healing elixir not only for you, but in its resonance from you into the DNA of all societies. However long it takes, I hope you might stay with me on this journey and share your own along the way!