and in that moment
the weight of the unshed tears
became too much for
one grieving heart to bear
– Untitled Grief by Satsekhem
I have been trying to write this entry for nearly two months now. But every time I sit down with the intention of writing it, whatever I want to say seems incredibly foolhardy. Here I am, someone who tends graves and works extensively with the akhu and I can’t write a damn thing that doesn’t sound like some shitty fable about grief. The thing is that I’m a liar and a fool. I want to talk about grief and how it’s effected my since the death of my Sweet Pea, and how it relates to my work with the akhu, but I have to be completely honest. I don’t deal with grief very well. I never have and as time goes by, I sometimes wonder if I ever will. I lock grief away in a hole in my heart and keep it there to feed the other emotions I have, or I ignore it in its hole until it is so overwhelming that I finally begin to cry for the loss of everyone and everything.
I don’t handle grief.
Thinking back on it, I’ve tried to think of a time where I knew I was grieving. I’ve had a lot of loss in my life over the years. My father died when I was seven. I don’t know if I grieved then. I’ve blocked that entire episode out entirely and have had that block up since I was very young. I don’t remember anything beyond the day he died except to stay with one of my mom’s friends during the funeral. Later, my paternal grandmother died – suddenly, to me – but I know I never cried. I remember running around with the other kids at the funeral home and riding in the back of Papa’s truck to go to the cemetery. I’m certain I did not grieve for her then, or maybe I did but in a child’s way. As the years went by and people died and then later, all of my childhood pets died, I never grieved.
I was always too busy.
There was something else to do; something else to finish; something else coming at me.
But during all that time, I never paid much homage to my dead. When I was young, they went to God. When I was a teenager, they never came back. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, they were reincarnated. I never stopped to think about me in any of these situations. They were unchangeable as far as I could see and my tears weren’t going to bring them back. It seemed foolish to sit around and let myself mourn for the loss of people and pets who had been taken by nature or poor planning.
But, I keep being drawn back to the artwork that I am used to in ancient Egypt. Since I was a child, I’ve been drawn to the “mystery” of Akhenaten and the 18th Dynasty. While I have since grown out of the conspiracy theories that peppered my teenage drive to learn about them, I have found myself continuously drawn back to the scenes of mourning that can be found in the Royal Wadi at Amarna. I look at the scenes of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, mourning the loss of their daughter, and I wonder at it. I’ve always, I’ll admit, been fascinated by the mourning scenes in the tombs of ancient Egypt: they’re wailing and they’re throwing sand in their hair, and they’re sobbing at the loss of someone they loved. I think, as a child, I associated ancient Egypt with the desert planet, Dune/Arrakis, from the series by Frank Herbert and as a child, I often thought that crying was forbidden in ancient Egypt as it was on Dune. (It was a waste of water, on Dune, to cry.) But the scenes show that they mourned fully and energetically.
And I wonder at this.
How is it possible that people could feel so much and let it out?
My mom, when I was a child, never really cried. She blames both me and my little brother for this because whenever she would cry, we’d pester her to tell us what was wrong. I think there’s more to it than that because I find myself unable to cry just like her. And I can’t think of a single instance in which either of my grandparents have cried, at least in public. I think it is a family trait to hide our grief and mourning from other people. I think it is something that I inherited or was indoctrinated into or something with our dour, Catholic family. We keep all of that inside because it’s just not good to show it or something.
And I’m learning that, as someone who works so much with the akhu, this is no longer feasible.
With the loss of Sweet Pea so fresh in my mind, I’ve thought about how her death has impacted me. It’s different from all of the other deaths I’ve experienced. It wasn’t the length of time we had been together. And it wasn’t just that she had been with me through so much change, but there is more to it. I can tell by how the knife stabs me in the heart with every breath I take, every thought I make about my beautiful, darling, wonderful, perfect Sweetie Pea. I dream about her. I cry about her. I fall into my steering wheel with sudden bouts of pain. I miss her so very much. And she isn’t there to cuddle with me when I feel really shitty. And she isn’t there to lick my tears for her. And she isn’t there to give me the look she always gave me, part tolerating whatever I was doing and part irritated that I was preventing more nap time.
Earlier this month, I read this entry about someone else’s pet-based grief. And I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the reason why my mourning for Sweet Pea has been so prolonged. Is it because Jasmine is still here? They were pack. They may not have gotten along and towards the end, they mostly ignored one another. Jasmine doesn’t seem to be overly effected by the loss of Sweet Pea – not like me – but the two of them were a pack anyway. Sweet Pea would nip at her as a puppy and put her in her place… until Jasmine got big enough to put Sweet Pea in her place. (Sweet Pea was a full mini-Dachshund and weighed about 8 pounds on her heaviest day while Jasmine is a tween Dachshund, a mix of mini and standard, which puts her at 15 pounds all the time because she’s overweight.) I wondered for a good two solid weeks if my situation was similar to Cheshire Cat Man.
As I’ve written this entry I have to admit that I think there may be a bit in my situation that is similar to his. But, I don’t think that’s all of it.
I think the grief I feel is what happens when you really begin to work with your ancestors. I think this is just another part of the path I’ve been waltzing down all of these years. And that, in a way, it is a healing process. I will finally begin to live with mourning and grief. I will finally begin to say, “I am grieving for the loss of my beloved.”
And maybe one day, I can cry freely and not feel that showing my grief will devalue who I am as a person, as a polytheist, and as someone who worships her akhu.