One week ago today, an important person in my life died. I met Debbie Ford in January of 2006 at the Shadow Process Workshop in San Diego. It was the first step of an incredible, transformational journey that proved the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I was ready, and Debbie taught. She taught me so much and so well, it’s hard to remember how resistant I was at first, how terrified, how uncertain. Debbie taught me to trust my heart, to believe in my own inner wisdom, and to trust the process. After a lifetime of holding myself to impossibly high standards (i.e., perfection), it was Debbie who taught me how to accept and love every part of my humanly flawed self. The last seven years have evolved my soul and transformed my spirit.
This past week has been a roller coaster of emotion for me. I will openly admit I’m no good at dealing with death–with anyone’s death. My parents modeled nothing but avoidance for me. Death has claimed my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, cousins, and both of my parents. I have not attended one funeral of a family member. We don’t “do funerals.” I guess in my family, it is expected that people have the consideration to die with as little disruption to the world around them as possible. We are to disappear quietly, leaving behind as many good memories as possible along with adequate instructions for the distribution of our belongings. Death in our family is treated sort of like the person moved to another country. We talk about them, remember the good times, but they’re so far away that we never quite get around to visiting or calling.
So, this week I’ve been bouncing off the stages of grief like a pinball being flipped around inside a supercharged arcade game. On a daily basis I may decide that Debbie’s death doesn’t affect me (denial), followed by the urge to go back to bed (depression). Then I find myself raging in an email about something she said four months ago (anger). Soon I am painting in the cottage and feeling as though I am one with the universe (acceptance). Before you know it I’m telling God that it was her time, but it’s not my time; her work was complete, mine is just beginning (bargaining), only to be interrupted by more tears and an angry declaration that she just wasn’t that big a deal to me in the scheme of things.
See, I told you I was no good at this! And that’s okay. I love that I’m no good at this! Because I’m not a bit worried that I’m not “doing it right,” that I am somehow “less than” because I don’t grieve like everyone else, or that I won’t find a way out of my sorrow. I learned from Debbie Ford that whatever I choose as a way to process my grief is perfect for me, and if I just allow my heart to guide the way, the process will lead to the evolution of my soul.
Goodbye, Debbie. I love you, and I will miss you.