We don't talk much about grief.
We all experience it at some point and death will obviously come to each of us-but we keep it quiet. We don't want to upset anyone, seem too negative by discussing it, or show our weakness I guess.
And the grieving process is as unique as the person feeling it. There is no timetable. There is no measuring tool, and there is no "cure." It is just something we all have to work through in our own way.
I've been contemplating this over the past few months after losing my father to a LONG battle with Alzheimer's disease. Because people often ask, "how are you doing?" I've been searching for words to describe how I've felt. It seems no one word would suffice because the feeling constantly fluctuates. There is an ebb and flow, like the ocean, there are dark and light moments, there is an emptiness and a refilling.
But then a word came to me. And now I keep seeing it everywhere. Windswept.
This word was prompted by a memory of a vacation a few years ago in the Caribbean when we experienced a wind storm. The winds were sustained at 30-40mph with gusts up to 50mph for the whole week! We, of course, would go outside because we were on a beautiful island and wanted to enjoy the scenery. But after spending time in that constant pressure we felt beat up, and our skin tingled from sand and dirt hitting us. After a while we couldn't stand it. We would hang on to the storm door as it flung open in the wind and run into the house, straining to pull it shut behind us. Then, suddenly, there was silence. It felt like a vacuum and my ears were ringing in the quiet. I would take deep breaths because I had been worn out from the constant straining against the wind outside. But I felt almost empty. Exhilarated but exhausted. Washed out. Windswept...
It has been the same moving through this period of grief. I experience high emotion and deep sorrow that results in exhaustion. Leaning into the grief offers a release, but you end up feeling empty. And just like feeling the wind pelt us with sand, it strips you clean, but you ultimately you feel prickly and raw.
It isn't lost on me that the ocean, the wind and the waves, create that feeling and that it is part of a natural process. God has created it this way perhaps to remove the old, the tangled, the decaying matter on the earth. A windswept hillside is left stripped, but fresh soil is exposed for new life to grow.
After my father passed I found myself focused on the sky and the winds. (Remnants of the childish notion that heaven is "up there.") It was comforting to watch the clouds move or look at the stars when I walk at night. As a painter, it is also natural for me to want to capture those scenes and these feelings on canvas. So the Windswept collection was born.
While I create I can work through my grief and try to express the wide range of emotion even when I have no words for what I'm feeling. I'm so grateful to have this outlet and the ultimate relief that it brings. I hope these paintings speak to you in some way as well, and that they can be a reminder that there is calm after the wind, and the opportunity for renewal, and new growth will come after the storm.