Finding out that someone you know has died creates a liminal moment.  Whether that person died after a long illness or through a sudden event like a car accident just the fact that they are no longer alive stops time.  It shocks us out of the metal, emotional, and physical routines we live by, jumps us out of our comfortable box, and thrusts us into a moment of now.  It causes us to evaluate our connections, our identity, which has irrevocably changed.  How it has changed is something we begin exploring slowly, like an unfurling flower, petal by petal via small movements, feeling our way into being ourselves again, but subtly or not so subtly different.

Part of that process to about connection.  When a person dies we lose connection with that person in the way that it had been before.  The living connection has ended.  Like a phone call that drops suddenly in mid sentence.  We had more to say, more to talk about, more to plan and do, yet there is no one on the other end of the line.  So what do we do with all that.  If it is someone in your family the experience is an odd mix of feeling shocked into stillness where time has no meaning while at the same time events are hurtling by and everything feels rushed and hectic as logistics come into play.  There are gatherings of family, notification of friends, financial matters to go through, possessions to deal with, and memorials to be held.  And yet everything inside is in slow-mo or strobing through emotions like someone turning the volume up and down and up and down…..

During this shock period we are pushed out of time to deal with connection.  We are interconnected beings living a socially intertwined life.  And during this time of loss it’s all about connection.  Some of that is people coming together to share their shock, to mourn their loss, to speak the words of their emotions and have them witnessed by others.  But there is also the process of reconnecting and forging new connections.  This liminal period allows us to explore in a very deep and meaningful way who we are, how we are now changed, and see this in others as well. New connections can be made, relationships changed, healed, improved, and our identity  opens up to this new life with a structure that has been fundamentally changed to include a new reality.

Memorials are a means for us to continue the phone conversation we were having with the person so that connection to them is not lost.  It continues in a new form as long as we are willing to continue talking.  As long as we are willing to spend time in the shock, in that liminal moment, changing, becoming and then unfurling our new self to the world.  If we aren’t, if we choose to try to hold back time, to keep from experiencing this change, then it is not only our friend or loved one who is lost…