March 9, 2021

Hold a Funeral for What’s Finished

Sometimes we say “I’m so tired” when we really mean we just can’t go on with what we’re doing. We’ve run out of steam. No fuel. No juice. Empty.

ONE YEARIs there some end in sight? Are we about to be done with this shit? Did we learn anything? Do we still love the people we loved a year ago? Still rejecting the ones we rejected? Is the work we were doing important or been rendered irrelevant or nonexistent? Do we still care? How much guilt are we carrying for being okay? How much despair are we hiding because we are not at all okay?

Anniversaries are reckonings. We tally up the memories, try to close the books and see where we land. “After disaster” anniversaries are rough. First year is all about loss. Not paper losses. Real losses. Of people. Plans. Dreams.

Yesterday I spoke with a school administrator. Her work is crazy hard in a “normal” year. Teachers are held to ridiculous requirements in the best of times – but in Covid expected to pivot to entirely new modalities. Nothing was removed in the way of expectations. Just more demands. So, they plan and struggle to keep the attention of anxious kids. Just as they begin to feel they might salvage something from this mess a catastrophic freeze disrupts everything again. Lots of tears of frustration and many curse words. So, at the urging of their leader, they took their plans out to a barrel and burned them.


This ritual is more significant than it sounds and reveals wisdom we all need. Some stuff we should just throw on a fire and burn it up because it costs too much to hold on to our illusions of control and agency. We burn and we build something else closer to the truth.

“Know how to hold a funeral”.

Rituals: where we practice and recite what’s important to us. We’ve lost people this year we couldn’t even mourn properly. Our rituals were taken away – these are the markers and milestones of life that remind us of who we are, where we are on the journey. We forfeited those signposts.

Rituals: Celebrate what we want to remember and repeat. Bury what we must.

We are at the one year reckoning. Not done. The books aren’t closed yet on this one. One year is an arbitrary marker.

Don’t be afraid to reflect. Keep weighing. It’s not a term paper and we aren’t required to turn it in because the semester is ending. If we push ourselves to conclusions or try to force our way back to “normal” we may cause harm. I’m not talking about masks here. I’m talking about meaning.

As usual, I wrote this for me and maybe for you too.

PS: I got my sense of humor back yesterday. For the first time in a long time I laughed so hard I had to catch my breath. I may have snorted I’m not sure. They may have heard me across the street. I laughed at myself with a friend who shares my same brand of ridiculous dysfunction. We laughed at ourselves- together. There really is nothing better. And then I laughed again. Someone about forty years younger lectured me hard on something I may have written a book about and may have lived with for decades and I almost got mad but then it just became so incredibly funny. Because I remembered “do you know who I am?” is a prized family joke punchline. And then I cried/laughed some more. So thank you, young person, for lecturing me about respecting women.

© Angela Blanchard

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