Fear at my shoulder, tapping, calling for attention – instead of reacting to it, I embrace it with compassion. It is a part of me and the only way to deal with it is to turn and look, really look, head on. Ah, there you are – come, sit and be with me. Let’s talk.

Tomorrow it will be 4 years since my brother died. Tomorrow it will be a minute since he died, a second, a decade, an aeon. Time becomes meaningless when there is a black hole where he used to be. Yet my heart is filled with love for him and gratitude for the loss that became a catalyst for me, plunging me into the exploration of what death is in our culture; how we deal (or don’t) with it; how death-phobic we are. I am trying to understand this. Where did it originate from? When in our history did death become so fearful and why?

I am concerned with exploring how we process death and loss. There is no permission in western culture to grieve, one is either judged maudlin, melancholy or over-reacting. Either you are metaphorically covering yourself with ‘widows’ weeds’ or ‘flinging yourself on the funeral pyre’. Boy, have we got it wrong. We simply don’t know how to do grief, fear and anger.

Fear at my shoulder