How was your Family Day long weekend?

I hope you had a wonderful time with friends and family on the Family day long weekend or whatever you decided to do.

For me, I noticed as Friday rolled around that I was feeling a deep sense of loneliness. I also noticed this has been a reoccurring theme whenever a long weekend or a holiday comes around.

No matter what I did to put myself out there, to reach out beyond my feelings of isolation and loneliness, to connect with others, nothing seemed to work to relieve my anxiety. So, on Saturday night, I got really still and went deeper inside of me to sort this out.

While letting myself feel the sadness, I could not initially identify anything specific it was relating to, but kept going deeper into it. This is when I realized there was a deeper layer of grief related to the death of the last of my “family” members and it was fuelling the loneliness. My Dad died in September of 2017, as did my cat Kinuso, in November.

Eventually I got in touch with feeling angry about being left behind by my Father and Kinuso. Once I got into the depth of the anger, and released it, I was able to navigate my way out and onto the other side of it.

I know for myself and have known about myself for a very long time, that the only way “out” of the what society calls “negative feelings” is for me to fully embrace them and feel them deeply by diving in. Only then will I come out on the other side. It however, does not come without the initial anxiety that comes with feeling “off,” or in this case – lonely.

Getting to the stage of being fully present to my feelings and being willing to explore at this level often feels like asking myself to willingly walk the plank to my demise into the ocean! (of the unknown.) Frankly, I would rather distract myself with entertainment, or some other numbing experience.

Then, as is always the case, when I decided to just get in and find out what was in there, I eventually emerged, the world seemed ok again, actually better than “ok.” The feelings of loneliness had completely disappeared, the “sun was shining again,” and I wanted to dance, so I did.

It always works this way for me, this cycle of resistance then surrendering to the feelings, and emerging, feeling like I am reborn. Yet I still resist the journey at the start. The funny part is, my resistance to diving in, is actually a longer process than the time I spend being present with my feelings.

I wonder how Persephone felt before travelling into the underworld. She might have felt something similar, and yet she always emerged.

So, in honour of Kinuso, as she was actually the closest, most recent, family relationship to me, I want to share the photos of my journey through her death.

Death is a great teacher. Death is a sacred experience. In honouring Kinuso’s life through ceremony, I honoured myself and my relationship with her.

I hope in my sharing, it will inspire you to Dare to do Death Differently.

Kinuso’s story.…..(photos below)

Kinuso was born in High Prairie, Alberta in 2001. I stopped there over night on a trip to visit my father. I found her desperately crying, hungry and scared in the middle of the night, outside my motel room. She was just a little kitten.

Her name full name was Princess Kinuso Two-tooth. Her name is a combination of the town of Kinuso and the extra set of front teeth growing from her gums below her baby teeth. (When her adult teeth came in, all was normal.) I had decided when we left High Prairie, the next town I came to on my trip with a decent name would be the name I would call her. Grouard was actually the next town, and well, it didn’t have the same kind of ring to it as the next town, Kinuso, did.

While in Alberta, Kinuso had a wonderful life, living with four other cats and a dog. She was an indoor/outdoor cat, able to come and go as she pleased through the cat door. She had other human friends in the neighbourhood that loved her, that she regularly visited. (We lived in a small town.)

Eventually, she was the only one remaining of my fur kids. We moved to Nova Scotia, leaving her other important human behind, arriving on Halloween in 2015, landing in a Halifax apartment.

She gave up a wonderful life in Alberta to adjust to city living with me, not able to go outside and catch mice as she loved to do. I know she missed her pervious home with the privileges she had there and I knew she wanted to go back “home”. Although I was not able to grant her, her wish to return while alive, I did honour her by returning her bones to Alberta in January, for burial later this year.

These photos are of her journey with death, and how I participated in it. They of course do not capture everything but you will get the idea of the depth of my love for her, and how daring to do death differently, for me, was a much healthier experience than any experience I have had before at a funeral for people I know. Of course there were other deaths I was able to officiate at or able to participate in prior to coming to Nova Scotia, that were equally meaningful and prior to knowing I would choose to do this work for a living.

I still miss Kinuso, a lot. She was 16 years old.

In the final series of photos, the alters dedicated to Kinuso, are marking her life both in Alberta and Nova Scotia, simultaneously, at least until her bones and ashes are buried, likely in June.

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