Is The First Moment Of Grief Forever Frozen In Time?


One year. 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes, 31,536,000 seconds…and yet, a certain tiny tick of time seems forever frozen. Why does it seem like only yesterday that my world stopped for a full instant?

December 27, 2013 began just as any day begins. There was nothing particularly unusual about the morning. The sun rose just as the last shadow of night departed. My family still basked in the recent calm from the ceasing of the Christmas commotion.

I casually strolled into the home office of my parents and refreshed the screen of my mom’s laptop. A single salutation emerged in my email Inbox that prompted me to follow a link for the latest update on the health of my ailing mentor.

For a split intoxicating second, I fantasized that his cancer was a mistaken diagnosis and that all was well. However, cruel reality shook me from my false bliss and sucked all of the breath out of my voice. Like I said, it was an ordinary day and yet it was about to become one of the most significant in my life.

I read the words several times prior to my brain comprehending their meaning. “We regret to inform you the passing of … on December 27, 2013.”

“How could that be possible,” I wondered. “For that to be true, then it must be that my mentor, my teacher, my friend, my second Father, my everything is dead.”

As soon as my inner thoughts betrayed my delayed impulses of physical movement, I collapsed onto my knees to the ground. I don’t remember any sort of conscious decision to fall, but fall I did into a sobbing heap.

Have you ever known grief that beckons an autonomic primordial groan? For those of you kind readers who are nodding at this point, please accept my complete compassion and condolences. For those of you who are shaking your heads, please know that no series of words, no matter how poetic, can ever convey the true extent of the ache I will attempt to describe unless you experience it first-hand.

I realize that this post is being published in the midst and aftermath of the end of the year, 2014. Seeing as though I am releasing it the weekend between Christmas and New Year’s, I am not aiming for mass views and comments.

Rather, I am sharing my experience at this moment to honor my mentor and to encourage anyone reading that is struggling with processing grief, to hang in there. If only one person finds this collection of written words beneficial, then I succeeded in my mission to express comfort and kindness.

But I digress…back to the story of this past year’s journey through grief…

As the moments ticked by with anguished agony after reading the announcement of my mentor’s death, a single word saturated every thought that my brain attempted to form: Untethered. The moment before reading the news I felt grounded, safe, secure and certain that I would see my teacher recover and gently laugh in the face of the cancer that struck him without warning.

However, upon processing that lone line of text spreading word of his passing, time for me stopped. My ears rejected all sounds surrounding me in an effort to drown out the uncontrollable sobs that my own body produced. It seemed as though I was watching myself grieve, but the voyeur-esque nature of the situation did nothing to muffle the inner screams of rage and fury welling up inside of my chest.

Torn between acquiescing to anger vs. profound sadness, I floated far above my feelings into a state of temporary numbness and disbelief. What struck me was that I had survived loss before. I had been to a few funerals and “celebrations of life.” Why was his death different?

Or perhaps the more proper question was, “What difference did he make in my life?”

From the moment I met my mentor, Ken, every moment after magnified in importance. Ken could gently analyze any vivid dream I’d have and offer me a valuable morsel of wisdom in only a few words. He demonstrated how to not take myself or anyone or anything too seriously.

As the years of his teaching progressed, the glint of gleeful laughter occupied more and more of his countenance.

Perhaps the greatest gift to anyone lucky enough to call Ken his or her mentor was his consistency of kindness.

At the conclusion of every class, workshop, seminar or one-on-one meeting, he’d conclude with the decree, “Above all, be kind.”

There was not one moment of any instant during his teaching, either within a physical classroom or within a metaphorical one that Ken forgot to check his own ego at the door. He declined lavish offers and plaintive pleas to be a “guru” to others or to have his life’s path chronicled by renowned authors. He lived simply, consciously and consistently.

He stressed the importance of applying the outlook of kindness to everything and towards everyone. Kindness is not being nice or passive. True kindness radiates strength and creates the space for others to choose to seek commonality of interests rather than justification for differences.

In the past year I’ve processed and progressed through the entire classic “Stages of Grief” and even repeated a few along the way. The timeline of grief is different for everyone.

Recently I arrived at the final stage of “Acceptance” and came to two conclusions. Choosing to accept someone’s death does not mean that you cease wishing that they would be in your life. It also does not preclude you from inviting the “departed” to “live” within you and to reflect their virtues in all that you do.

I accept that Ken is no longer alive. I accept that I will not hear his calm voice coax me towards remembering my inner strength when faced with life’s inevitable chaos. I accept his death and yet I embrace the light of his life into my life and seek to share that luminance with anyone who crosses my path.

By demonstrating the same kindness and compassion that my mentor taught, I accept that his legacy of being kind lives on within me timelessly.

Have you ever experienced a moment of grief that seemed to be frozen forever in time? How did you process your loss and what lessons did you learn along your continuous journey towards letting go and acceptance? 

Let’s continue the conversation. Please feel free to share your thoughts. All expressions reflecting kindness are welcome here.

Happy New Year everyone. See you in 2015!

This post originally was published via LinkedIn


Hiya Kindness Conversationalist! I'm Nanci and my passion is Igniting Kindly Conscious Conversations With Your Mind AND Body. As a Pilates Instructor, Intuitive Healer, Emotional Intelligence Specialist & Lifestyle Blogger my Vision is to Empower You to live your Best Life. I'm on the Journey with you. Will You Go Kindly with me?

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  1. Jennifer says:

    Wow, I can so relate to this post. I’m sure you remember when my dad passed away when we were in 6th grade. So many thoughts swirling in my head after reading this. I’m currently being distracted by my son, who’s telling me about the lego movie. And it makes me think how special it is to have my dad’s genes carry on through him, and my daughter. I didn’t actually grieve until I was about 15. I think when something so significant like that happens when you’re so young, you really don’t know how to process it all. And moving so soon and changing our lives – I just had to go with the flow. But I can distinctly remember a specific night of severe grief during my sophomore year of high school. I wrote a poem that night that I can still remember almost word for word – more than 20 years later. I wrote a lot of poetry back then. It helped so much. Although I don’t grieve like I used to, and haven’t for awhile now, the hole never completely closes. And I may not believe in God or heaven anymore, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder if somehow my dad had a helping hand in getting my brother and my family back up to Tahoe to all be together with my mom again. I know he would be happy to know we are all together in such an amazing place. I wish he could see my kids – that’s always going to be hard. But I see him in them and that is pure, true. His genes course through them and there is no debate about that. That to me is more powerful than God or any religion.
    It’s been so great to follow your life Nancy – even if only on Facebook! You have had such insightful and thoughtful writings. I will still remember studying for calculus together at Davis! :). And our Los Altos days. If you ever find your way to tahoe look me up! It would be so great to catch up in person.

    1. Hi Jennifer! Wow, what a lovely comment. Thank you for sharing and for reaching out. Yes, I do remember your dad passing. He was so full of life and always smiling in my memories. It sounds like you have been on quite a journey through the grief over losing him. I’d love to catch-up more in person. I am up in Grass Valley often to visit my folks. Send me a message on Facebook with your info and I will text you back mine. Thank you again for writing from your heart. I really appreciate it! -XOXO, Nanci

  2. Wilsye Seeley says:

    I really appreciated reading your post. Thank you for sending me the link through Twitter and letting me know your feelings. Having moved to Florida from California in 2006, I had accepted that I would only get to see Ken once or twice a year when I attended an ACIM Academy. Because of moving, and then more so after his death, I am so very thankful that we have so many tape programs to listen to and the YouTube videos. I realize now that you were VERY close to him. My dad died from cancer when he was only 54 years old and I was 27 years old. I was married and had moved away from home years before so I think that I handled my grief pretty well. However I watched my mom struggle with the type of emotions that you described. I have found, as I see you have, that writing about feelings and events is helpful in processing the residual emotions about certain things. My heart goes out to you for having to remember those feelings each year on the anniversary of his death. We were all so very fortunate to have his teaching, and I think that you were even more fortunate to know him personally. I have a photograph of him at the podium with his gentle smile on the lock screen of my iPad. I am reminded of his beauty many times each day when I turn it on. Thanks again for letting me know about your relationship with him. I trust 2015 will be a great year for you. Warmly, Wilsye

    1. Thanks Wilsye for your kind words. Yes, I was very close to Ken. He was like a second father to me. We spoke often and I visited the foundation every year for an extended session with him. I listen to his recordings often and keep a photo of him on my phone. I know that he lives on in my heart, but I do miss him terribly. It is lovely to connect with you and to share memories about our Teacher. Happy New Year! Go Kindly, Nanci

  3. Beautiful story about grief and the impact of loving people on our lives.

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