How do we honor our grief when there’s too much of it?
Today is the ninth yahrzeit of my father’s death. As one of my sisters noted, it almost gets harder as the years go by. In a way, that’s true.
For one thing, I remember more of him, especially the “him” before he was bit by a mosquito carrying a capitalist-fueled ecological-catastrophe disease that put him into nine months of a “living” hell aided and abetted by the capitalist-propelled health-uncaring system. Yet also because looking backward a mere nine years, the losses have compounded so exponentially, they seem impossible to recount, much less mourn well.
I know I was with my mom on this night nine years ago. We sat in silence watching the sun set in the big, expansive Michigan sky, having hours before been the last two people on this imperiled earth to hold my dad as a small, almost-imperceptible final breath left his body. Less than four months later, she was dead.
I know I placed rocks for them both by water, near flowers, under skies that narrowed as I walked ghostlike through the next few years, throwing myself into organizing for (or what often felt like with) those many, many fresh ghosts—murdered by cops, murdered by eviction, murdered by borders and prisons and fascists. I joined with thousands, nay millions, of others in the grief-rage called uprisings, or with dozens or hundreds of others on grubby sidewalks turned DIY altars.
This #CollectiveWorkOfGrief felt for a time like it opened space to fight and win for the living, honor our dead, and mend the world and ourselves. And I know it still can.
But today I read “1 million dead” from the pandemic in the States alone, not counting the “side effect” deaths—suicide, overdose, loneliness—global COVID toll, and those assassinated by white Christian patriarchal supremacists. The countless have to count.
May my father’s memory, and the memory of Buffalo, El Paso, Pittsburgh, Quebec City, and many more, and those who’ve been killed by myriad other human-made disasters all spark a blessed revolution.
Our grief has to know no bounds, encircling all our aching hearts in collective acts of #RebelliousMourning, of #LoveAndRage.
(photo: “grief” seen on stolen Anishinaabe lands)