Grief is Love

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“We are taught that grief is something that arrives in the immediate aftermath of death, and while that's certainly true, it's not the whole story. Grief is the experience of navigating your loss, figuring out how to deal with the absence of your loved one forever. It's the understanding that the pain you feel because of their absence is because you've experienced a great love. That love doesn't end when they die, and you don't have to get over it.”

- Marisa Renee Lee, Grief is Love: Living with Loss



Thursday, December 1, 2022

As you know, abuela passed away on November 17th at 104 and four months of age. My husband and I went to New York to be with my family and to both plan and attend her service and funeral. Still tender with grief, we returned home late Saturday afternoon to find that our remaining cat is nearing the end of her life. Like abuela, she is a centenarian —- in cat years. I have always joked that she was connected to abuela and so it makes sense that they will likely depart this world around the same time. As you can imagine, I am tending to layers of grief. 

First, we had a beautiful private ceremony for abuela. The day was bright, sunny and beautiful. The priest who presided over the bilingual church service and funeral had the surname Rodriguez…one of abuela’s surnames. There were roses, left by previous churchgoers, all around the church. We each placed a rose on her coffin and then stood in a circle holding each other close. My abuela left clear directives and one of them was that none of us were allowed to wear black to her funeral. We were to proceed in a celebratory fashion. I wore a bright red dress adorned with a rose pattern and a silk red rose in my hair. We told stories about Abuela, laughed a ton, ate a meal that she would be proud of and held each other through tears. Words cannot possibly express the depth of our grief and gratitude for having loved and been loved by her through our lives - she was the catalyst and matriarch of the four generations of us that remain to honor and celebrate her memory and legacy. My mother now takes her place as our matriarch. The photo above right is of my abuela kissing my mother on the cheek on her wedding day to my father 53 years ago. I see the kiss as passing the baton of matriarch.

As I watched my mother grieve the loss of her mother, I realized…my mother had the presence of her mother for 80 years of her life. When I am 80 (which I hope to be!), my mother will be 113. It hit me that I may not have my mother for the length of time my mother had hers. A grief for things that may not come to pass. I then wondered if my Abuela was able to grieve the loss of her mother. My Abuela’s mother died when she was 8 years old. The woman who did not have a legacy of being mothered became a matriarch for four subsequent generations. She was not only a mother, she was a grandmother, great-grandmother and a great-great grandmother. A grief for the loss she must have experienced as a little girl…becoming an orphan and learning how to survive without proper caretaking. Her love, triumphant spirit and her history of continual survival amidst loss (loss of mother, family, homeland, marriage, siblings, etc) is what endures. We stand on her strong steady and fiery shoulders. What a legacy. Above right is the photo of all of us - her lineage and legacy - at the day of her funeral last week.

Second, grieving my abuela touched and reopened other grief inside of me. The continued grief of losing my abuelo 37 years ago, my father 20 years ago, the grief of fifteen years of infertility and the eventual release of a long-held desire to become a mother, grieving leaving the west coast (and beloved community) to return east to be closer to my family, due to this move…feeling isolation…grieving the loss of being in physical community with others (due to Covid), grieving the loss of our 20 year old cat just four months ago and now the anticipatory grief of losing our other (and last) nearly 21 year old cat - the imminence of it is enormous and heavy. This is the vortex of grief. 

I have coped with grief, in the past, in ways that are deeply internal, private and reflective. I have traditionally coped and carried myself through grief by reflecting on and writing about feelings, processing them via the covert control of words, and only shared them verbally with others after I’d had adequate time of personal private processing. But this time I didn’t have words or the capacity for contemplation. I had feelings that wanted immediate uncontrolled and uncensored expression. Overwhelming, big, tumultuous, spiraling and unraveling feelings. I am still navigating my way through this “messier” new-to-me way of processing grief. It is quite fitting for the year of “de-composing.” And I am so grateful for it because it means that I am learning to grieve in a much less defended armored, and controlled way. I am giving myself permission to fall apart and grateful to have community, friends and family to lean on for support. 

Over the past few days, I found a ton of comfort in reading “Grief is Love: Living with Loss” by Marisa Renee Lee. Below I share several excerpts that were supportive in both affirming how I have been feeling but also providing understanding and some pathways to partnering more lovingly with my own multi-layered grief. I hope that, whether you have known grief before or are still experiencing grief, you will find comfort and pearls of wisdom in Marisa’s words. Scroll down to read excerpts - it's a lot of writing! 

I want to thank you all for your emails, texts, voicemails and cards in the mail. I am still going through them all and taking my time as waves of grief come and go. I am learning to give myself more grace when I can't respond immediately. Everything just feels like too much right now. Know that hearing from you is a healing balm for my heart and that I cherish each message. 

Classes in the week ahead - Sunday December 4 at 10:00AM PST and Wednesday December 7 at 9AM PDT.

Note: I will be teaching classes through and including Sunday, December 18 and will then be away with my family in New York. Classes will then resume after January 3.

Deeply grateful for this community,
  • Somos Luceros on Sundays at 10AM PST 
  • Embodied Movement Explorations in Body Wisdom & Wellness on Wednesdays at 9AM PST 
  • ArcanaDance - next workshop TBA


Somos Luceros

Somos Luceros is a somatic dance practice designed to illuminate the wisdom of your body and cultivate deep embodiment of archetypal qualities that offer lightness, depth and joy. The dance moves are simple and guided by the language of storytelling, opening new chapters in our bodies where we can see and feel our most luminous potential. Release the stories in your body that weigh you down and reclaim your light. In Spanish, Somos means “we are” and Luceros means “bringers of light” or “bright stars.” This name honors my father, my paternal indigenous ancestors in South America, my heritage, and our collective oldest ancestor, the stars. We are dancing bodies of light.

With immense gratitude for your continued support, 


Somos Luceros – Vamos a Gozar: Dancing in Honor of Abuela’s Memory and Legacy (via Zoom)

Date: Sunday, December 4, 2022 at 10:00AM PST

Time Zones: 10:00AM PST | 11:00AM MST | 12:00PM CST | 1:00PM EST

Pay what you can in exchange for the class experience ($5-$25)

Register for class:

Join us for  Vamos a Gozar: Dancing in Honor of Abuela’s Memory and Legacy

Every year, for the past six years, we have celebrated my abuela’s life through dance. Six years ago she was 98 years old. We got to honor and cheer her on, via our community dances, through her 99th, 100th, 101st, 102nd, 103rd and 104th birthdays.

Vamos a gozar translates to “let’s enjoy.” One of my abuela’s favorite phrases, it captures her spirit and life motto so perfectly. She loved nothing more than to gather with people and have fun. For over 100 years she moved with a self-assured relaxed easy stride swaying her hips in a flowing skirt. It was a gloriously hypnotic sight.

Abuela would want us to dance in joy and enjoyment, and to shake our hips with playful abandon and confidence. It is the greatest way to honor her memory and legacy. Let’s do it!

And if you feel called to it, feel free to wear something red, a flowing skirt or fabric, and/or wear a rose in your hair or pinned to your clothing.

The dance moves are simple and guided by the language of storytelling. You are invited to receive the choreography, bring it into your body and make it your own.

Somos Luceros is a somatic dance practice designed to illuminate the wisdom of your body and cultivate deep embodiment of archetypal qualities that offer lightness, depth and joy. The dance moves are simple and guided by the language of storytelling, opening new chapters in our bodies where we can see and feel our most luminous potential. Release the stories in your body that weigh you down and reclaim your light. In Spanish, Somos means “we are” and Luceros means “bringers of light” or “bright stars.” This name honors my father, my paternal indigenous ancestors in South America, my heritage, and our collective oldest ancestor, the stars. We are dancing bodies of light.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the class/meeting.

Pay what you can in exchange for the class experience:

Embodied Movement Explorations for Body Wisdom and Wellness (via Zoom) - NEW TIME - 9AM PST! 

Date: Wednesday, December 7, 2022 

Time Zones: 9AM PST, 10AM MST, 11AM CST, 12PM EST

Class is one hour

Pay what you can in exchange for the class experience ($5-$25)

Register for class:

Join us for Embodied Movement Explorations for Body Wisdom and Wellness

Body wisdom is being aware of and attuned to what our body needs to feel well. This somatic intelligence and tending can be accessed and cultivated in many ways.

Every week we will explore a variety of somatic movement practices that include somatic dance, yoga, QiGong, archetypal expression (mainly tarot), and other modalities that emphasize mindfulness and that guide self-knowing.

Classes for the months of November and December will focus on Exploring Expressions of Power.

All classes will be crafted using dance movement repertoires from Shake Your Soul (Leven Institute).

The dance movement repertoires we will embody and explore allow us to feel the power of the major fluids systems of the body: synovial, intercellular, arterial blood, venous, and cerebrospinal fluid. 

Power is energy and the fluid systems in our bodies provide us with different qualities of energy that allow us to express our power in a variety of ways. In this series, the Shake Your Soul repertoires will aid us in “trying on” relaxed power, fluid power, rooted power, resilient power, and attuned power.

Class dates: November 2, 16, 23 and 30 and December 7 and 14.
*No class on Wednesday, November 9 and no classes December 21 and 28.

In this class we center the experience of living, feeling, sensing and moving in our bodies. We learn practices to know ourselves more deeply, cultivate joy, restore from stress, explore creative self-expression, and ways to nourish the various systems (fluid, muscular, skeletal, organ, nervous, and cellular) of our body.

Come to move your body, develop a deeper appreciation for the intelligence and wisdom of your body, and to learn practices to be well in mind, body, heart and soul.

Wear comfortable clothes to move in. No shoes required. Feel free to have a yoga mat, blanket or towel for floor-based practices.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the class/meeting.

Pay what you can in exchange for the class experience:

Tarot Sessions - Now January through March 2023

I am now scheduling from early January and into March 2023.

Please note that I will not be seeing clients the last two weeks of December and the first week of January.

Feel free to contact me now to get on my calendar :)

These sessions are my lifeblood and I so appreciate your continued support in scheduling appointments and referring your loved ones and friends to me. As you know, I don't advertise. All of my client work has been via referral. For that I am immensely grateful. 

To schedule a session, choose the session type at and email me your questionnaire.

Tarot Consultation Packages
There are several tarot packages to choose from, including options for multiple one hour to two hour sessions throughout a one year window.

Huge thanks to Brooke Lowe Johnson for the photo (top) above! 

Excerpts from Grief is Love: Living with Loss by Marisa Renee Lee

May these passages offer you comfort, affirmation, understanding and new/other ways to be with grief.

“Giving yourself permission to grieve is the beginning of the journey: permission to know that you have loved and cherished someone’s life deeply and will continue to…Grief is never easy, and its form can change over time in the ebbs and flows of life, but giving yourself permission to wholeheartedly experience it makes it more tolerable. Healing starts when we give ourselves permission to grieve.” 

“How do you begin to access the vulnerability that grief requires in the absence of safety and security? If day-to-day living often feels like a battle, grieving seems like a luxury…The safety that vulnerability requires may not be equally distributed, but we have to find a way to access it in order to live with loss. To arrive at a place with our loss where, at a minimum, we have a handful of spaces, places, or people where we feel safe being vulnerable. You may need that sense of safety in order to tell the truth about the impact of your grief on your life.” 

“The idea of just sitting, being present, simply breathing through heavy and challenging emotions seems counterintuitive and, frankly, annoying. Physical pain is, in some ways, easier to manage. I mean, who the hell wants to sit with sadness? With the anguish that comes after a life-changing loss? Who wants to give space to feelings of emptiness and despair? Not me. But this is what grief asks us to do, to simply create space to feel. Creating space for feelings require us to move away from the ‘doing’ parts of life…It may just be a few minutes of deep breathing and an acknowledgement that you still miss them. The processing mechanism isn’t what matters; what matters is that you allow yourself an opportunity to process the pain and let it take up space in your life.” 

“Living with loss requires you to be honest about the depth of your grief, and to ask for help when you need it…Grief will present feelings you cannot immediately comprehend. It makes it nearly impossible to convey them to someone else…The fact that you cannot do everything on your own is normal - even when you’re not grieving. And if someone wants to help you, but you don’t know what you need, feel free to tell them that. If they are your people and part of your inner circle, they will find a way to make you feel loved even in the absence of your explicit instructions.”

“Because people are fallible, they are inevitably going to disappoint you. While you’re grieving, someone, probably multiple people, who love you are going to let you down. Given the all-consuming nature of early grief, you are going to let others down as well. You will also have moments when you  feel as though you are letting yourself down. When you don’t move through key milestones the way you expect yourself to, or when you don’t do the things you know you need to do in order to heal. Disappointment is a close friend to grief, and that’s why grief requires grace….Grace is forgiveness plus love….Extending grace to someone else or to yourself is about acknowledging how imperfect we all are and how complicated grief and life truly are. In the context of grief, there are three ways to think about grace: the grace we extend to others when they don’t support us the way we want them to, the grace we require from others as we move through grief and regularly disappoint those around us, and most importantly, the grace we extend to ourselves as we work to rebuild and reimagine our lives after loss.” 

“Expect that maintaining or building any intimate relationship after your loss requires some degree of shared grieving…Managing shared loss in an intimate relationship is deeply complex, and wildly uncomfortable, and at times everything will seem upside down. The relationship you’ve both normalized is pushed aside when you’re dealing with grief. Grief impacts how you react to the world mentally and physically, and that doesn’t stop with your relationship. Grief is all-consuming and requires your attention…Fundamentally, grieving while in an intimate relationship with someone requires you to constantly assess what you need, find a way to share it, listen with empathy to what they need, and lovingly find a way to navigate your shared pain in different ways.”  

“It is counterintuitive for many of us, but after we lose someone we love, we have to figure out what kind of care we need in order to live with loss. We must figure out how to rebuild that pillar of care and support that they provided within ourselves after they die…Many of us struggle to be kind to ourselves, and this is especially true when we are grieving. It is particularly difficult for those of us who are built to love and nurture others…What is it that you really need? What does your grief require? There is something specific and internal that your heart is calling for that only you can answer…When you take the time to get to know those aspects of your heart and spirit, when you determine what it is you truly need, you can live a full life in the midst of your grief. It’s where healing can be most active and the well from which joy and love can flow."

“Joy can sometimes feel impossible to access…It may seem counterintuitive, but to access your joy, you must sit with your grief while allowing natural moments of respite from it. Somewhere in the middle of feeling absolutely miserable, you may find something that makes you smile, laugh, or experience a tiny bit of comfort. You need to accept the shittiness of the present moment in order to experience joy in any form…If you are going to live a full life after loss, you have to find your way back to joy…Do not feel like you are betraying your person by experiencing joy. Experiencing joy is one of the many ways you can continue to love them.” 

“We often work ourselves up over external elements of honoring our lost loved ones, things we can do like an honorarium or charity in their name. Those are things that some of us have the privilege to do out in the world, but a true and lasting legacy is really about love. It’s internal. Legacy is based on the fact that there was someone you loved dearly and who loved you back, and that love now lives on through you. As you sort through how to honor your lost loved one, think about how you have been changed by their life and their love to ensure they live in the hearts and minds of others from beyond the grave, through you…When you lean into who your person was at their core, when you know you are exemplifying the best of their values and the impact of their life and death, that is when you feel the most fulfilled and the most connected to them. When you can bring their spirit, their essence, back to life, we keep our people alive, letting them continue to live through us and those we love.” 

“Love doesn’t die. Love endures forever…whoever you lost still loves you, and their inability to act on that love is why we grieve…Love doesn’t die, and that is why we grieve…Death forces us to continually recalibrate our expectations around love. The foundation of a full life after loss is love. It is choosing to continue to love your person in the present tense. It is moving forward with life, bringing them with you. It is deciding how to love them and how to continue to experience their love forever…Continuing to feel their love will sustain you. Their love and the love you have for yourself is what will get you through the worst of your grief. Let love buoy you.” 

Mary Lenox's Poetry

Following is the poem, Come Into the Light, that Mary wrote and shared with us after class this past Sunday. 

Come Into the Light

Come into the Light
Where love abides
Drink from the fountain of hope
Inhale the fragrance of divine love

Come into the light
Where peace welcomes you
And a rainbow, too
Echoing all Is well

Come into the light
Wherever you are
Like that tiny green plant
Cleaving to life in a crack of black cement

Come into the light
Breath by breath
Come home!

©Mary F. Lenox
   San Diego, CA

To join Mary's email list: 

Allison Russell - You're Not Alone (Featuring Brandi Carlile)

"In the cradle of the circle (in the cradle of the circle)
All the ones that came before you (all the ones that came before you)
Well, their strength is yours now (their strength is yours)
You're not alone"

Many thanks to Somos Luceros community member Catherine Scott for sending this song - it has indeed brought me comfort.
Copyright © 2021 ArcanaDance™, Embodied Tarot, and Somos Luceros. All rights reserved.
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Everybody, Love Your Body · Greenwood, Fremont and Ravenna · Seattle, WA 98177 · USA

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