Linking Objects

Keepsakes have been a part of my daily life for as long as I can remember – unique and personal things, useful items, gifts, and mementos of places and times shared with those I love. Objects that link me to my people – the living and the dead.

Throughout our home and among my possessions are gifts from Kissie from over the years; reminders of seasons and personal passages, their emotional resonance even stronger since her death. And then of course there are all of her personal belongings – things she delighted in and enjoyed, gifts from family and friends, and familiar and favorite comforts from her homes that have become even dearer reminders of our shared existence – strengthening memory, and perpetuating our history and relationship.

In the vocabulary of bereavement, a “linking object” is a thing or experience that connects us to our deceased loved one. An experience might be a favorite movie or book, a song, a smell, a special place, or a preference our loved one had. I have 51 years of such experiences with Kissie – a personal and cultural heritage with countless tendrils of connection. Lucky us.

Now, just 21 months since her death, nearly all her worldly possessions feel significant to me. Because we have a large and close family, and many friends, her numerous things are shared, practically utilized, and treasured among us.

Many things will doubtless remain cherished keepsakes, and others, with time, will become necessary, and easier, to part with. Some already have been donated in her name to causes and organizations close to her heart. Some will be passed on to younger family members. I have chosen to honor and respect my intuitive promptings to keep those things of hers I feel particularly drawn to and especially connected with.

“Linking objects provide vital connections to our loved ones as we reconstruct our relationship to them.” – J. Worth Kilcrease

Getting Grief “Right”

Getting Grief Right

The above titled New York Times opinion piece exemplifies the idea that grief is an obstacle to be overcome, and a problem to be solved, and as such, there is a “right” way to accomplish this. Implying, if done right, it need never bother you in any meaningful way, or impact your functioning negatively.  And as the author attests, this cultural expectation (sometimes overt, often subtle) of a time-limited and manageable grief, followed by getting back to your life, is alive and well.

How many of us are “exhausted from acting,” and failing to recover from our self-diagnoses?  How many don’t find a doctor like this one – adroit in his assistance exactly because of having learned from his own grief? He even acknowledges that his formal grief training was a detriment to him, and his patients, and that it was after the death of his son that his practice began to change.

I think it’s more than safe to say the “rigidly embedded” grief model he describes in our “cultural consciousness and psychological language” has worn out it’s usefulness, if it ever had any.

I’m interested in thoughts about the “3 chapters of loss” he puts forth. Particularly the third. What would it look like if we let ourselves and others “sink into (our) sadness?”

Check out the comments section in the article, too. There are some really incredible stories and insights.

Thanks for reading, and welcome,