Grief’s spiral, grief’s gifts

I’ve just passed the 30-day mark.

It’s a month since my sister Marcia died.

I wasn’t raised to be aware of this sacred time, the first month after a loss. But I love how time is set aside, in Judaism — set aside to allow one to be with the grief and the turning of life’s poignant pages. This time is called Shloshim (means thirty).

Grief's spiral, grief's gifts

This last month’s quiet gave me time to step into and begin to understand a new part of my is-ness. I have a new identity now. I’m a woman with only one living sister, not two.

Bearing that new truth, wearing that new cloak of identification, has taken some getting used to.

Grief isn’t linear.

It’d be simpler if with each passing day an equal amount of grief would just melt away and eventually disappear. If only.

Grief, in my experience, is as non-binary as the rest of life. Feelings and emotions come and go, like the weather.

My sister Marcia (R) and me

My grief comes and goes, spiraling close and fading again.

Feeling bereft and lost opened up time for contemplation and appreciation.

Sharing memories with my living sister and daughter heightens the sweetness and creates a loving receptacle for my tears.

Learning to live with the now-intensified sense of my own mortality has the power to stop me in my tracks. (I’m the eldest, and while I’d never really thought about it, I was surprised I didn’t go first.)

Maybe that’s why Jews cover the mirrors in the first week of mourning — so we don’t have to look at our faces reflecting that freshened sense of mortality.

The gifts of grief


I appreciate the pain of seeing myself with clarity. Of owning how I had let myself give up on my relationship with Musch (as she styled herself).

I hadn’t found the way while she was alive to see and hear her as she was without judgement. To see her divinity. To embrace her humanity. Instead I backed away.

Now I get to see this, and to let this knowing inform my being and actions.

Actions driven by awareness

Marcia died nine days after a stroke that took away her speech, comprehension, and much of her movement. I visited with Musch by Zoom and phone calls, and participated in family conferences, helping my brother-in-law Jim (Marcia’s husband) navigate end-of-life decisions.

Being in conversation with Jim at all is brand new to me. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see and hear him exactly how he is despite my judgements (and they are many!).

I’m calling him and just f*cking listening.

These steps on my spiral path feel aligned with how I see things now.

As Shloshim ends, I’m feeling hope.

I got my first Covid vaccination on the thirtieth day. Funny how that worked out.

California spring is in the air; the first magnolias are here.

I’m making a lot of art and creating two e-courses.

  • Fun and freedom with fluid art — playing with flow, depth, and dimension.
  • Create your digital will — Make it easier on those you leave behind (this one inspired by my sister dying intestate.

Have you seen my work on Fine Art America? Have fun exploring. Or book a virtual studio visit with me and let’s talk about an original made just for you in your favorite colors.

Check out my artwork on prints, greeting cards, journals, mugs, and more.

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I’m a barely tamed hippie, sage, seasoned, sarcastic (not all the time any more, but still). I’m a mom, a daughter, sister, a neighbor, and a friend. I’ve been on this meandering journey — like you, probably — seeking a better connection to and experience of peace, harmony, and fun in every bit of life. I’m single, quite good at it, and mostly love it. I’m here for the conversations I get to have with you, which these days center on exploring the mystery and beauty of life, work, health, aging, and creative expression. Want to know a little more about me and my journey? Explore the site. Read the blog. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.