WellesleyWeston Magazine

WINTER 2014/2015

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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community and my old friends from Dana Hall where I attended high school, I think we had meals for four months. At Christmas time, the neighbors banded together and pitched in for a large star illuminated in pink lights that they lifted up into a tree, and did this for years. In some ways I think it was easier to be here and not have to be going back to school and seeing all Charlotte's old friends. On the other hand, I missed her terribly and there was no evidence of her anywhere. You've said part of your motivation for writing the book was the feeling you weren't doing grieving right – and to help others learn from your experience. In hindsight, is there such a thing as "grieving right?" Elisabeth Kubler-Ross came up with the five stages of grieving that were very helpful to me, and they've become benchmarks of the grieving process we have in the Western world, or certainly in the US. I clung to them because what I really wanted was a roadmap, and there is no roadmap, largely because people grieve so differently. But I didn't go through them in a linear way and I spent less time in some stages than others. "Grieving right," as I see it now, is allowing yourself to let whatever emotions come up to just wash over you with- out questioning them, allowing them to come into and then move through you. That question, "Where has she gone?" It's such an honest and instinctual obsession for a parent, after spending years trying to corral your children and keep them under your wing. What is your vision now of where she is? I did struggle so much with the where has she gone, much like a mother in the park, that I couldn't even fall into, descend into, my grief until I knew that she was okay somewhere. I think many of the more organized religions have an architecture built into their belief system so that there is "heaven." I didn't have that, being brought up without much more than an Emersonian God-in-nature-and-divinity-inside- ourselves tradition. My belief system has evolved to viewing life and death as points on a continuum. The soul lives on. Charlotte as my six-year-old daughter and child who moved through life with me — I have a sepa- rate relationship with that experience than I do with the essence that is Charlotte. Where I believe the essence of Charlotte is, is separate and yet here. But that there is some sense of communication back and forth, some sense of an ability to connect, and some sense of continuity that we will be together again. That transformed my entire process. Comfort comes to everyone in varying ways, and my way isn't the way. Others receive answers through prayer in a church or volunteering in a community. But my way was going to a medium, and my entire world shifted in that moment. I wrote about that in detail in the book. If someone told you that you could essentially have a conversation with the person you had lost, wouldn't you consider it? To have that actually 184 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | w i n t e r 2 0 1 4 / 2 0 1 5 books "people grieve so differently"

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