Another cemetery walk done! Awesomely, Logan went out of his way to join me and we made our way to Bulli cemetery after I met him at Woonona train station. The form of the walk was essentially the same as Walk 2 with a few minor changes / clarifications:
– Participants are to wear black clothes.
– Each participant is to dedicate the walk to a loved one.
When arranging the walk with Logan, I had told him to choose a “deceased” loved one. Ultimately, he dedicated the walk to his dog / friend Radar but explained to me how he had come to his decision. Given that he hasn’t had a whole heap of loved ones die, he was choosing between Radar and his Grandpa. However, his Grandpa’s death is still not completely resolved for him and so he decided not to enter into that mindset (and besides, he thought Radar would enjoy the walk!). For me, this just emphasised the importance of each participant having the freedom to tailor the walk towards something that will be beneficial to them in their current situation. Accordingly, I think participants should not simply be limited to deceased loved ones. I’ve named the exercise “Little Deaths” for a reason, as I feel like we suffer mini deaths all the time, in the form of break-ups, falling out or loosing touch with friends and so on. So…if someone doesn’t have a deceased loved one in mind or is not ready to share them with another participant, they should have the option of choosing a loved one who’s still alive and warrants their thoughts. Hell…maybe it shouldn’t even be limited to people. For instance, what’s stopping someone from mourning a TV show that’s been cut or a sporting club that’s fallen apart? Life is a continual process of learning to let go and so this sentiment should be at the core of the exercise. Simply, it should give participants the opportunity to acknowledge (to another person) someone or something they miss so the process of letting go becomes more manageable.
I enjoyed hearing about Radar and again found it comforting to share one of my loved ones with another person. Logan explained how close he had been with Radar, as his family had got him when Logan was in primary school and he only died some 3 years ago. He was an incredibly active dog and made being an only child all that more bearable for Logan. After some thought, I decided to choose my friend from school Laura, who died in 2010 from a complication with swine flu. I told Logan of a few regrets I had. For instance, some 3 months before she died, Laura tried to organise a class reunion. I had initially said I would go but due to a late change in the venue/city, I decided not to make the effort though it was altogether possible. This is a decision I still regret, as it meant that I didn’t see Laura since high school. Verbalising this to Logan felt good, as did reflecting on some of Laura’s best qualities including her amazing voice and hugging ability.
When we got to Bulli cemetery, we split up for some 10mins or so. I ended up stopping at the grave of Courtney Elizabeth Wheeler who died at the age of 10. Given that Laura had also died too young (at the age of 20), it seemed fitting to acknowledge the two of them together. Logan stopped at an unmarked wooden cross, as the anonymity made it easier for him to reflect on Radar.
Having had 3 walks now, I feel like I have a much better understanding of the exercise and believe it has potential as a larger community walk. My next blog will outline how I would structure this larger walk (if I was ever going to), and will also include a reflection on the experience as a whole in terms of how it relates to the subject matter.