Life Lessons from Grief

April 9, 2020

This month marks ten years since my brother’s transition. I usually don’t do cemeteries, but I felt a call to be there with my family for this anniversary. I was scheduled to be in upstate New York and would stop at his grave in Brooklyn on my way back to Puerto Rico. But coronavirus canceled those plans. The airline canceled my flight. So this month I will be sharing images and lessons he inspired that helped me through my grief. When he passed, I was overwhelmed by how unwelcomed I felt in spaces because of my grief. My brother loved graffiti. He rocked these bandanas since he was a kid. And since my first paintings when I was 13, he was always there cheering me on. So I turned to art and to his pack of markers that still smell like his cigars. I don’t have graf skills, but I’ve been a calligrapher since I was 13.

I’ve quarantined numerous times in life. Preparing to birth. Grieving. I still use it as a strategy to go within, sort through whatever uncertainty and grief, seek guidance and healing.  I still paint in isolation. I write in isolation. And in the forced isolation of my grief, in the dreaded days between hosting rosarios de los difuntos, I wrote, I journaled and I created. I hope these images I will be sharing in the coming weeks with their messages of family, life, love, loss, grief, transcendence and continued connection give some comfort to the folks caring for themselves, caring for their loved ones, losing loved ones, separated from loved ones and grieving their loved ones.
 

I hope we can collectively consider ways to energetically offer light and love to folks battling Covid-19 alone at home or alone in the hospital; to those transitioning without their loved ones. How do we collectively hold the losses we lived before, and the losses we will still live after coronavirus? Cancer was and will still be there as so many other illnesses. Systemic violence was and still will be there. Yet, meditating on the many survivors of all these illnesses, covid-19 included: how do we hold each other in love through life while we still live it?
 

Prophet, 2010
Luz series
(My brother as a little boy in Puerto Rico)
Digital montage and calligraphy on watercolor paper
18 x 12 inches
 

The lord has anointed and qualified me to teach the gospel of good tydings to the meek, the poor and afflicted. He has sent me to bind up and heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and of the opening of the eyes and of the prisons to those who are bound.
Rom. 10:15

 

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