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Knitting Through Grief

I don’t know if this post will ever see the light of day. I’m not even sure that I’ll be able to complete it but, in this moment, it seems like it will help and so I’m giving it a go.

Call me privileged, sheltered or just plain lucky; in my small orbit of close friends and family, people die only after a long life. When, through grief, there is a feeling that their passing was also a blessing in some ways.

A few weeks ago, my Godmother died by violence. I’m not giving out more details, mainly because I can’t say out loud, or even type the words. What I will say is that I have no idea how to deal with this; how to process these emotions. There is no blessing. There is no peace.

But there is the soothing act of knitting. Even in those first hours after hearing the news, I knit just a swatch to keep my hands from shaking. For the first couple of days, we were waiting to find out what had happened. All we knew at the start was that she went out for a walk one afternoon and didn’t make it home. Trying to keep my mind out of the dark places of my imagination was nearly impossible. The coping mechanisms that helped me so well throughout the pandemic - hiking, gardening and even knitting - could not keep my mind out of the dark.

On my To-Do list for quite a while was developing a new class that required making a lot of charts. I’m not sure what led me to try working on this task, but it kept my sanity in those first days. Making charts is not hard but it is tedious and, most importantly, you have to pay attention. I made most of the 12 charts, including the ones I needed to make a cowl sample, in just a couple of days.

Then we got bad news, and a week later worse news. These past weeks have been a pendulum swing of trying very hard to be distracted and around people (not my normal happy place), and overcome with grief. I don’t think I’m coping very well. I’ve been swinging between denial and anger. I grieve not only for my godmother, but also for her family. While she was my godmother and I have known her all my life, there are many people that were closer to her. While it is hard to imagine now, I know that, sometime in the future, there will be a day when I don’t think about it. For her family and close friends, including my mother, I'm doubtful that day will ever come.

As I have tried to get back to a normal routine, I decided to start the cowl sample for my class. When I printed out the charts, I had a bit of a shock. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, the designs I chose for the cowl remind me of her. The sample is double knit with a different pattern on each side. One side reminds me of the paths she would walk every day; the other of the trees along those paths.

Knitting this sample, I am thinking of her. With each stitch I send love out to her family and hope that they will somehow find some comfort. There will be more dark days ahead, I know that. This cowl may end up fitting a giraffe, but as long as it helps me process this grief, I will knit it.

Why am I writing this? Mostly, for myself, in another attempt to come to terms with what has happened. But also I know I am not the only one in a dark place. Maybe these words will help someone else to feel seen and understood. Maybe someone will send me a note of encouragement at just the time when I need it. Grief and hope are both powerful things.

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