archives, you & me

Time Will Ease My Grief.


Timing is a double-edged sword. It can be life-saving, as it was for those who were late to work on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 and were not in their offices at the World Trade Center buildings when the planes crashed into them.

It can be agonizing, as when you miss the birth of a baby or the death of a loved one.

I experienced the latter right before Christmas. My mom had been in a memory-care home for more than a year. She had early-stage dementia and some other issues. But she appeared to be doing better physically.

I hadn’t seen her in a year. The demands of my job at the time and a minor health issue of my own prevented me from seeing her last July for her 80th birthday.

I assumed I would see her for Christmas, as I always had, every single year.

My boyfriend and I flew up from SoCal to the San Francisco Bay Area on Dec. 20 to spend the holidays with my dad, with the intent of visiting my mom several times, including on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Unbeknownst to me, my mom passed away the morning of Dec. 20. My dad waited until we landed to tell us. I’m glad he did. The shock and grief would have made it tough to travel.

The timing was one of the hardest things to grapple with. There was no prolonged illness to serve as a warning that time with her was even more precious. She had told me how much she was looking forward to spending the holiday together.

Although I know from my spiritual practice that we leave our bodies when we’re ready, it was very difficult to reconcile that with the close timing of almost seeing her after a year, of not being able to give her one more hug or say I love you one more time.

I know her spirit has been liberated and I can send it all my love. But it cannot replace the physical touch of a hug.

I know I need to respect her choice of when she left her body. That it was her choice, not mine. And that I should just surrender to the knowing that she has been relieved of pain and suffering.

But the timing of it is still difficult. I know time will ease the grief of our near miss. And our spirits were probably communicating in the sky while I was on the plane.

I remember that morning, back at my apartment, I felt really cold and started crying for no reason. Now I know why.

Ironically, I wrote and published a biography, The Alchemy of Grief, in 2013 about a spiritual healer, Dr. Jack Miller, whose Phoenix Projects take those who’ve suffered losses through a transformational journey. I realize now I was naive in writing that biography at that time.

As much as I was inspired by Dr. Miller — he was a speaker at one of the classes I took on my path to becoming a spiritual counselor — I had not experienced the depths of grief that could have given me more insight into interviewing him and infused the writing of his biography on a deeper level. I had not participated in one of his Phoenix Projects.

As a journalist, I was more interested in his own life story and how that catalyzed him to become a healer. I feel like I did justice to that part of the book. I look forward to participating in one of his upcoming projects. Maybe I will rewrite and republish his biography after doing that.

Grief can manifest in different ways in different people. We all have different ways of expressing it. As a writer, expressing my thoughts in writing is one of my best coping tools.

So, I will continue to write about my mom’s passing, to honor her memory through photographs and the like, and to know that she is at peace.


Deirdre Newman is a journalist, author and Yoga teacher. Her first novel, The Alchemy of Grief: The Life Story of Dr. Jack Miller and his Creation of The Phoenix Project, was published in 2013. Her second biography, Live, Laugh, Love: The Life Story of R.W. Forsum, was published in 2016. She did her Yoga teacher training at Yoga Tree in San Francisco. She got her spiritual counseling license in 2013 through Centers for Spiritual Living, based in Colorado, a global community that teaches New Thought philosophy, which melds religion and science.


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