Living with Dying: Grief, Loss, Beauty and Joy is a project that began almost two years ago, before we ever heard the term COVID-19.
Or maybe Living with Dying is a project that began twenty-eight years ago when I returned to Plattsburgh from Long Island, deeply bereft, having just attended my mother’s funeral. It soon dawned on me that no one has the capacity to evade this sorrow. There are many variables at play, the age we are when we first experience this kind of loss, the manner of our loved one’s death, the particulars of the relationship and more. But, we are all initiated and enrolled in that club without our consent. We do not need to be nominated to be considered for membership, the dues are high and it turns out that we know many, many other members.
Or maybe this project began during my mother’s shiva (seven days of mourning in the Jewish tradition) when I thought to myself, “Wow, Mommy’s friends are so smart! They know exactly what to do and what to say.” I was so grateful. “What luck,” I thought, “that they’re all so wise.” And then a day or two later, “Ohhhhh,” I realized, “They’ve all been in my shoes! And very likely more than once.”
Too, maybe it began when I met Cathy Brooks (now Cathy Brooksie Edwards) more than thirty years ago. Though she had not yet begun her more formal training as a healer, her vital spirit was evident and our friendship became one of the finest gifts and richest adventures in my life. Our collaboration on Living with Dying has deepened our connection and presented us with an opportunity to create a larger conversation about mortality, permanence, grief and love.
I feel certain that, one way or another, each piece of art work in this exhibition, was and is a balm for its maker. The show presents an array of statements to be pondered and, elixirs to imbibe. I hope that visiting Living with Dying: Grief, Loss, Beauty and Joy, either in person or virtually, will enable internal realizations and questions to become external discussions.
Enjoy the show.
Diane Fine, October 2021