Wednesday, February 22, 2012


This is Winifred. I took these pictures in a roadside cemetery in Brattleboro last summer after my friend and midwife Susan died.

I had finally stopped to meet this lovely girl that I passed every week on my way to work and violin lessons .

I love her feet, her hair, her patience as she sits there year after year. All the people who knew and loved her long dead, and here she sits in the summer sun.

I sat with her for a while and wondered about her life, who loved her enough to make such a statue and what she was like when she was alive. No one knows anymore.

Last week on a gray winter's day that was threatening snow, I drove by and saw someone had left her flowers.

oh, Winny or Fred or whatever those who loved you called you; someone still leaves you flowers!

It reminded me that I had saved this quote from Karly Pitman about grief that soothed me last year when I was taken down by the ghastly and permanent loss that death brings.

"How much of life is grieving? My wise friend Deidre says 50%. This is not the message you get from our culture, the media, and even from many of our spiritual teachers. It’s also not the message we tend to give each other either, as grieving means being vulnerable. For these reasons, grieving can feel lonely – which is why I write about its importance over and over again, to normalize this very human, very mature, very healing process.

We grieve so we can release this idea that we’re flawed, that we’re sabotaging ourselves, that we’re not controlling life “well.” (If you figure out the answer to that one, let me know!) We grieve so that we can find our wholeness again."

by Karly Randolph Pitman

I was feeling dreadful that my friend had died, that I wasn't going to have another baby like I had always thought I would, that my children were growing older and I didn't feel present enough in each and every moment. I was DOWN and disappointed.

This quote helped me because it made me realize that a healthy whole life is filled with grieving and loss, letting it pass through and over you and back to wholeness, that's all. Just grief. Let it come. Then go. Then come again.

This spring I will leave some daffodils for Winifred.


  1. Dearest Katherine,

    I am so sorry about the loss of your friend, and all the other losses that bring sorrow to your heart.

    I feel grateful and happy that sharing my grieving process helped you feel less alone in your own. Thank goodness we have each other.

    I think your writing is very beautiful and I feel nurtured by it - by both your beautiful writing and your tender, mystic's heart. Thank you for giving to me this morning.

    Leaving flowers for Winnie is a beautiful gesture. To me, it seems to be a bow to all that we love that is impermanent and very, very precious.

    Lastly, I think you'd really like this poem, In Blackwater Woods by Mary Oliver:

    In care, Karly

  2. Winifred Hadley. Died in Boston, on Tremont Street. Seamstress. Typhus fever. Many friends in Dummerston and Brattleboro. Well liked.