Lessons from a Lunar Eclipse: Grief and the Cycles of Loss and Healing

the moon understands what it is to be human: 
always whole with the illusion oF separation

 

black moon eclipse themoonismycalendar

 

healing and grief are said to be like a spiral, each moment getting closer or farther away from the source. whether it is the source of pain or the source of freedom, each ring of the journey often has a single point of reference: an event that defines your life, a story in the book of your life.

 

a moment that hits so heavy it’s like the light in Your eyes becomes totally eclipsed.

for me, that event was my sixteenth birthday.

new year’s eve: the birth of a new year and my birthday rolled into one. as much fun as it was to stay up until midnight to bang pots and pans as a kid, it got harder to create space on this loaded holiday for my own celebration... and then the morning of my sixteenth birthday changed everything. i woke up to the news that my best friend had been killed in a car accident the night before. so right then my life ended.

that is, the life i had imagined, the childhood pacts we had made together, all plans and forevers were never more.

 

there was no goodbye – just a black hole.

the shock rippled through our neighborhood and community. it changed the air we breathed.

i was holding on and wishing i could get her back somehow. i didn’t know how to be me without bree. my sense of self had been formed in relationship to her since before we knew how to walk and talk.

floating through the last years of high school and trying to make sense of the guilt of still being alive lead me into a silent crisis. something in me said to stay sober, but then how was i supposed to fill the hole? looking back, i can see that i was protecting that space from being filled up - it felt disloyal to replace her. 

i’ve heard it takes just as long to ‘get over’ a relationship as the amount of time spent with the person. but as far as i know there were lifetimes that lead into this one. i think there is no 'getting over' just moving forward through layers of grief and healing, winding and unwinding. 

 

it was A winter solstice full moon when the healing accelerated to a new dimension.

one december night seven years ago i reached a tipping point watching the lunar eclipse. i realized i had lived longer without her than with her. i was turning 33 with a three year old daughter and still no clue how trust in some divine source who would just carelessly take away life with no rhyme or reason. in this moment, i began drinking in the medicine of the moon and cycles of light and darkness, birth and death.

 

after disappearing into the shadow of the earth, the moon began to glow red.

amazing - she was still there, she's always there and just needs light to be seen. my eyes opened to the possibility that there is always light, but it's invisible if i'm turned away or shrouded in shadows. this awareness brought some ease and acceptance, however my grief cycle had only progressed so far... there was still unexpressed rage beneath the surface. 

 

THE MOON teachS us TO integratE what iS already there and was never gone in the first place.

the night of the lunar eclipse i penned a poem full of profanities aimed at god, because really who else was i going to blame? i had never felt such intense anger! thankfully the eclipse also offered a few cracks to let some light in on this spiral journey to recovering a sense of wholeness. lunar time parallels this path, each cycle spiraling into the next without end.  

the poem from that night follows ... warning: earmuffs for anyone sensitive to swearing. 

bree black and white.jpeg
goodbye
even though i’m not the one
leaving
i stayed
you left

god - you
fucked up
asshole
for doing it

and not letting me
in on
the secret
to understand
the why

why did she fly
from the back of the van
her walkman on
listening to her song?

why did she
leave the world so
quickly?

no
reply

in the darkness
i managed to not
tumble
into self-
destruction
but seek the
company of those
’in recovery’

wanting my own
recovery
by association
recovery of self
and meaning and
celebration
recovery of security
from the fear
that if he took
bree, he’s coming for me

you
can’t get me god
i’ll give you no
reason
to take
me too
and
if you do,
it’ll just prove
how effed up
you
really are

my re-covery
is un-
covering
the love behind
the loss
of love

uncovering the armor
to discover my life
my force
my source of light

watch out
you destructor
punishing god
ending her life
overnight
on the highway
like that

watch out
i’ll be so good that
you’ll feel like an such an asshole
for doing it -
allowing this
accident

you’ll have to apologize
to me in person
but i’m still hiding,
afraid to
pull back the shield
that protects me
from you

suffering
and the illusion of
loss,
– nothing
is going nowhere –
just changing form
a law of the universe
impossible to comprehend
in the heart
of a sixteen
year old girl

i thought we had a
deal to stay
together forever

lifetimes
losing contact with
her one day at a time
on the eve of my birth
so close to celebration
and death

the
darkest day
winter solstice
full moon
with a promise
of light returning
a moon eclipsed

she’s still there
somewhere
even without
the sun’s rays
to light up her face

the shadow
will step aside
with time
the moon’s disappearance
is only an illusion
of loss

nothing was taken
just changing forms
a realization
it’s me
i’m in the way
blocking the rays
— DECEMBER 2010

as the door to eclipse season opens, i am reminded that we live in a beautiful and troubled world where suffering and joy exist simultaneously. light and darkness are always present in different amounts. grief is so interconnected: when you feel it for one thing, all the sadness that ever was comes pouring in. it can be overwhelming.

may we each find cracks that let some light in and that whatever may be eclipsed right now becomes revealed with more clarity as each cycle spirals to the next. may we find reason to celebrate even with the full awareness that the suffering may never go away. we must step out of the way and let some light in!

 

bree color.jpeg