How To Grieve
As I drove to meet Jeremie, Brian and Taylor, I was excited to see faces I hadn’t seen in a really long time. I’m lucky to know the boys from teaching yoga, before Sick Boy was this explosive initiative and before I myself was a mom. So much has changed from when we first knew each other. I never, ever thought I would be on a podcast to talk about grief. But here I was.
Four and half years ago, I lost my two and half year old son Tommy unexpectedly. Tommy’s birth and death were both deciding moments for me. Initiations. A gateway to a new life. I’ve written online about my navigating through loss in a project I call the Grief Project. The project is four+ years in the making, and you can watch the CBC documentary Tommy Tinker Forever here http://www.estellethomson.com/tommy-doc/ - titled after the hashtag I use when posting about Tommy.
Through my transformative journey in grief and love, I’ve been blessed to realize how wide and alive grief really is. That we grieve our lost loves, but that we also grieve the life we expected to have with them. That grief is felt in separation of many kinds- a divorce, a cancer diagnosis, a chronic illness- these types of grief are rarely highlighted in our culture. Environmental catastrophes, mass murders, wordily disasters, never mind trans-generational grief which is never mentioned in our culture but affects us all the same.
There are other things I have learned and still learn every day. First, that teachers are present in our lives in many forms. For example, my studies in yoga and symbols, painting flowers and meditating in front of a sunrises have taught me more than any book or my Masters in Counselling combined. Second, to not be afraid or thrown off by sadness. Instead, to integrate and welcome it to dance with it and to imagine grief like a garden that needs tending. Third, that looking, listening and connecting with people in pain can help heal our own.
Grief is love and love is grief. They are both one and the same.
Finally, I hope I made it clear that I am grateful for both my art and yoga practice – both of which I am indebted to in my recovery and rising in my new life the best I know how. And I did this by practicing them both a little bit every day, a concept I refer to as ‘small daily acts of bravery”. Art and yoga are agents in overcoming transitional life periods but also in staying inspired in how I choose of see life’s wonders and delights. I believe in magic and Tommy has helped me see more of it. As a teacher at heart - I have been blessed in guiding other women most especially - I use art, yoga and mindfulness practices as tools for recalibrate in times of need. My goal is to teach others to see there is freedom to be found by doing what you love a little bit everyday. You can find some of my tools for transitions here: http://www.estellethomson.com/tools-for-transitions/
Looking back on my Sick Boy conversation, there is so much more I wish I had said! Perhaps how fundamentally my support system was and still is. That my marriage grew stronger- but like any couple- is not perfect. How space in both body and mind is vital in dealing and coping with physical and psychological pain.
Bottom line is I am thankful for Jer and the boys for seeing the importance in these types of conversations and for having me on the show. In a way, we are all on the same mission: TO TALK ABOUT THE STUFF NOBODY WANTS TO TALK ABOUT.
Love you guys!