How Tarot is Helping Me Grieve

Recently, I made a blog post that talked a bit about losing my mother-in-law, who passed away on July 7th of this year. It's been almost three weeks now, and while the tears have pretty well stopped, the sadness at losing such a strong and loving woman in my life hasn't. There are things that happen every week with the kids, and I want to call her and tell her about them. Like how my youngest girl is starting to ride her strider bike, or to show off my oldest daughter's new haircut, or tell her how my son is reading so confidently now! And then I'll remember I can't call her, she isn't there to pick up the phone. At least, not literally.

So, I have taken to talking to her in moments when I have a little bit of alone time. This sometimes happens when I'm out in the backyard weeding the garden, or when I'm driving home from work by myself. I think about her a lot and talk to her in my head when I'm walking our dog, and I say a little prayer to my matron goddess, The Morrigan, when I look at my altar right before I go to sleep at night. But by far the best tool I've been using to grieve for my mother-in-law has been my deck of tarot cards.


In particular I've been working with the Mary-El deck that I got recently, though the Motherpeace deck that's pictured above has been helpful too, as it embodies that fierce, yet earthy energy that I often felt from my mother-in-law. It's been so helpful in coming to grips with the creative and destructive polarities that women, and the divine feminine embody, and that is so representative of the natural world, and the circle of life. The way I use tarot is intrinsically intertwined with my personal spiritual practice, and the more I work with it, the more my faith in that circle of life is reinforced.

I don't think we will ever truly understand why certain people die early, while others, who we may deem to be not as "good" live on, but I do believe that we can come to know ourselves better when there is an absence of a loved one. When someone dies, and we feel a hole left by that person's life force it forces us to grow, to realize and remember what it is that that person did for us, how they boosted our spirits, or gave us strength, or provided us with love, nurturing, or another emotion that we benefited from. When that person isn't there to give it to us any longer, we are forced to grow into that space that's been left behind.

My mother-in-law gave me the kind of unconditional, maternal love and acceptance that I have longed for all my life. She celebrated my highs with me, mourned my lows, and loved me like her own daughter. She wasn't afraid to tell me when I wasn't living up to her expectations in some way, but was always quick to soften that criticism with a hug, or a reminder of some of my better characteristics, and she motivated me to be a better wife, a better mother, and an all-around better person. She was spunky, had a sharp wit, and a killer sense of humor, and best of all, she was cool. She gave some of the best, and most thoughtful gifts at my birthday and at Christmas that I've ever had, including a gift certificate to my favorite tattoo shop to get my second tattoo, and she had no problem ordering me woo-woo books or decks from Amazon to wrap and put under the tree.


When I pull certain cards, like The Sun, it reminds me of her face when she watched my kids, her grandchildren, opening presents from her on Christmas morning, and being ecstatic to see what she got them. She always brought such joy to our home when she was there. When I see The Empress I instantly feel her maternal, nurturing love. When I see the Four of Swords I know that she is finally at peace, no longer at war with her body, which was slowly, but surely, not working the way it should have.

In the coming months there are going to be a lot of firsts; the first time we pass her birthday and don't have her around to celebrate it. The first Christmas without her will be particularly hard. But I know that every time I feel her absence, I can pick up my deck of tarot cards and find Mom in there, all of her quirks, good characteristics, and her warrior spirit, and feel her there with us. The next year is not going to be easy, but I know I'll be able to get through it, with tarot by my side.


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