I am not the only one who has lost a parent.
This is not a situation or experience that is unique to me.
In fact, a majority of those with whom I have connected have suffered through losses that are far more traumatic and heartbreaking than mine.
This is something I think about often, and I guess in some ways it humbles me, sort of snaps me back into a certain kind of reality. My pain and that of my family’s is not special, different or more deserving of attention.
I get it.
But channeling the experience of my mother’s death into something creative, cultivating a community around me that is overflowing with support and genuine understanding, has saved me.
I’ve been a practicing art therapist for three years now. I’ve done a few exhibits and have spoken openly to the community about my challenges with an eating disorder and mental illness. But not until losing my mom, not until suffering through the void left in the wake of her absence, did I truly realize how healing not only art, but the community around it, can be.
I started “Conversations about Death,” perhaps selfishly, as a way to cushion myself with the support of a group of people who are aware of, and genuinely understand, this type of pain.
We have all been confronted with death, an ending, a demise, a specific type of closure; The best friends who had a falling out, the young woman whose mother drowned six months after her fiancé succumbed to cancer, the girl who was raped three times, or the young woman who battled drug and alcohol addiction, coming out the other side sober, but still grieving the loss of her most reliable crutch.
The conversations I have had with those who have so graciously agreed to share their stories of pain and healing have encouraged me to keep going, even on really bad days.
So, I guess my hope is for the community that is slowly cultivated through the stories I share will, in some small way, continue to grow and to help others when they are having really bad days, too.