Z is for The Zen of Grief: #atozchallenge Day 26


Being Within Zen

Zen is more than just a word

Zen is a way of life and being

Being a thing of mind and soul

Being a matter of acceptance

Acceptance that what is is

Acceptance without resistance

Resistance wastes energy I need

Resistance intensifies the inner pain

Pain can crush if I fight against it

Pain part of the process of mortality

Mortality brings permanent separation

Mortality is simply a fact of every life

Life and death are the yin and the yang

Life and death are forever intertwined

Intertwined in an endless circling dance

Intertwined and immutably inseparable

Inseparable as our two souls while we lived

Inseparable and each a part of the whole

Whole of the grief I feel at life’s impermanence

Whole of the pain at the loss of my marriage

Marriage of two human souls bound in one love

Marriage of life and death in perfect harmony

Harmony of corporeal reality

Harmony and flow circle and spiral

Spiral through cycles where we live and we die

Spiral of birth and growth and death

Death is the endpoint of each life

Death is the beginning of what’s next

Next breath next heartbeat next meal

Next level of consciousness or energy

Energy that maybe swirls through the air

Energy that might fuel the universe

Universe contains so much life and death

Universe holds more than we can ever know

Know that death is not truly the end of all things

Know that in some way he is still somewhere

Somewhere within this universe we share

Everywhere within the confines of my soul

Soul now bereft of his physical touch

Soul now with my own ever intertwined

Intertwined in life in ways that remain

Intertwined after his death in ways that sustain

Sustain me as I learn to live in new ways

Sustain through grief’s sharp jagged edges

Edges that are less distinct than they seem

Edges that soften when touched with Zen

Zen makes of death not only a sorrow

Zen blends bloom and decay into grief’s garden




I’ve often described myself as religious rather than spiritual. I’m not fond of doctrines or agendas, proscriptions and rituals that others devised, and I’m intended to follow whole, without question.

I need something more than that.

I need something that requires my active participation, my mindfulness, and my awareness that the life I live is more about my own choices than any external divine.

Zen matches my personality, and my approach to life – and death.

I come again to that Welcome to Night Vale quote:

“Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you.”

We were all born, and we will all die. Those are immutable facts – the brackets of a lifetime. But that can’t be the whole of the story, because lives are fueled by energy, and lives touch other lives; changing them, creating memories, adding layers and levels to others’ living.

I am not who I would be if I hadn’t known Jim, and loved him.

If I hadn’t loved him, and agreed to make my life with him, our children would not exist, and all that they’ve brought to me life wouldn’t, either.

I would be a different version of me, living a different version of my life.

Life with Jim wasn’t perfect. He and I were imperfect people living imperfect lives, carrying the scars and wounds of a lifetime into our relationship. There were issues that cropped up again and again, and never truly got resolved in his lifetime.

But that’s not to say that it was a bad life – because it wasn’t.

It was very, very good – often magical. Jim and I didn’t come to each other from a place of need. When we met, we’d both independently decided we’d be happy alone rather than settle for someone who didn’t truly suit us. As a result, we complemented one another very well, and lived our lives together with a general state of harmonic teamwork. We were friends who delighted in one another throughout the two decades of our marriage.

So, while I’m not sure how I feel about the idea of heaven, I know that, as long as I live, as long as the children do, as long as there are people in the world whom Jim’s life touched and changed, he’s still here, in a sense. He lives on in the way he’s affected the world, and the energy he gave in his life.

It’s not the same as having him here, but it allows me to find the Zen of acceptance – most of the time – and to accept the lack of acceptance when I just can’t find it.

And, for me, that’s enough.

Which works out well, since this is the final day of the #atozchallenge. Join me again in May for the wrap-up festivities.

Before you head off for your Zzz’s, check out more zesty Z posts.


Brancing out in the last months of his life. Jim as Chef Bluebeard, selling his “flavor enhancement sauces” in July 2017.


  1. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story. It was beautiful, from beginning to end. I hope that it helps you find peace, and I am sure that it has touched many lives. I know from reading it that there were times I laughed, smiled, and cried. Sometimes I felt like I wanted to write you comments that were paragraphs long, and other times, I was speechless. But through it all, you have shared an amazing story — YOUR amazing story. I am sorry for all you have had to endure, but I am inspired by your strength and your openness. Thank you.

    • Thank you for reading, and for your kind words.

      It helps to share and be open about this journey. Before he died, Jim affirmed he was all right with me sharing anything I chose.

      I’ve laughed, smiled, and cried, too. Tears today while watching Property Brothers when a woman who had recently lost her parents was selling their furniture, and feeling both sorrow and liberation. Laughter when I found a can of black enamel paint by the kerosene tank – and a smile when my daughter, whose window is beside the tank, replaced the can and told me it’s been there for years. She wants to keep that bit of her dad as it was..

      I wouldn’t have chosen this path – but there is a certain beauty in it. It’s painful, but there’s also possibility.

      And I feel the loss because I had the love,

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