Jilly D.

Let’s Take the Long Way Home

In Holidays, Mourning on December 13, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Those who have lost a family member or spouse are allowed by our culture to grieve and mourn, but the old traditions of wearing black, armbands and veils passed away a generation ago. In my workshop at Hospicare in Ithaca on “Getting Through the Holiday,” we struggle to find ways to express our grief and respect and honor our loved one by making new traditions. In our discussions today I was reminded of how rare it is to meet someone there who has lost a friend. There is so little social space for the grief of friends in our culture.

Maybe a wake. Then it’s over for any sort of social or public acknowledgement of the loss of a friend.  I don’t hear from any of Sam’s friends anymore and it’s more difficult for Sam’s family to stay in touch now that I live on the other side of the lake instead of next door.

My own friends have come sailing back in a small fleet to keep me buoyed. Deep friendships that now I wonder how I will mourn their eventual loss. After thirty years of friendship we’ve all gotten considerably older, if not wiser. Those dear ones who know you and keep you in their hearts anyway; they have chosen you as a friend and you have chosen them to keep close.

Gail Caldwell wrote a book released this year that is a memoir of a friendship. Let’s Take the Long Way Home is her story of Caroline Knapp, their dogs, daily lives and mourning her loss to stage four lung cancer. Gail  Caldwell is a writer’s writer. Elegant in its telling, I reviewed it for my blog about books I like.  To read more….



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