When we started, we assumed the deer-in-headlights looks we received when we talked about the people we'd lost were because nobody wanted to talk about it. We thought the only way to own our stories--even to casually mention the people we'd lost, whether a mom or dad, a brother or a sister, a partner or a friend--without feeling like we'd suddenly donned a scarlet letter was to close the door: to surround ourselves with people who'd been there in private dining rooms and backyards.
What we've found since is that that's not actually true. We've yet to meet a single person who doesn't want the chance to be a better friend, or partner, who doesn’t feel terrible when they casually ask, "What does your dad do?" or "How many siblings do you have?" only to find themselves with nothing to say to the response. It's simply that we lack the space and the tools to talk about it.
Between February and May, we tried something new: through an event series we called "Finding What Feeds Us," we invited people who'd experienced loss to come together with people who hadn't, for one three-hour window in which we banished the elephant in the room.
We explored some of the personal rituals and practices that have come up around our tables: crowd-sourced answers to that most basic of questions, "What works?"
Some of those rituals were of the centuries-old variety (like decorating sugar-skulls and burning joss paper), while others had a distinctly modern flavor (like plate-breaking and donut-eating and kissing in photo booths). We shared stories about the helpful (and not so helpful) things people said and did in the aftermath of loss, and shared the simple acts we did to feed mind, body, and soul. We danced and listened to sweet tunes and planted new seeds and discovered there's such a thing as healthy brownies. We reflected on stories we rarely get to tell and asked each other questions about the people we carried with us.
We're well aware we only scratched the surface. In the coming months, we're inviting you to share and discover stories, tips, and practices for living well, all by and for those who've experienced significant loss.