In extreme freezing conditions, your body restricts blood flow to all extremities, conserving and redirecting its limited energy to preserve only the most vital organs. When Napoleon died, I similarly dropped everything, including Kwohtations, because it was the most I could do to simply continue existing in the present reality.
I wrote in April, "I’m taking a break from Kwohtations because it’s all a bit much now. I have to assume that at some point picking up a paintbrush will help ease the pain, rather than heighten it." My friend Roxanne wrote me in response, "I recognize that moment; I have inhabited that moment. It will come." She, as usual, was right.
The initial period after I lost him is still unspeakable; I don’t think I will ever have the words to describe the places my heart and mind went to, and I’m sure there are pieces I will never get back. I’ve found that this indefinite period after is also its own unique kind of terrible - when the cards, flowers, and prepared food stop coming, and the initial rush of visitors return to their own lives.
Even while I've resumed doing things like attending meetings and going out for drinks and posting funny things on social media, my world remains incomprehensible and irrevocably changed. I’ve experienced grief to be isolating, confusing, and downright crazy-making: The flash of a sneaker, a movie trailer, a snippet of a song, whips me back to an instant, a conversation, something I want to remember to tell him, until I remember that I can't.
I cry and laugh and forget and remember over and over again, and feel like one big jumble of competing and demanding emotions that pull and pummel me at unexpected times and places, even as life continues to seemingly hum along.
When people ask me about the inspiration behind my cards, I tell them that I pull from the commonalities I hear and observe from others' experiences, but that also often they're the cards that I'd want to receive myself. I never imagined I'd be on the receiving end of so many sympathy cards this year, and I wouldn't have predicted how much they would mean to me.
I've read and re-read them and clung onto the love and truths scribbled in them - that it's okay to grieve for as long and in whichever way I need to; that I won't have to face and tackle all of these recurring waves of the shit entirely on my own; and that sometimes just acknowledging that things are royally, undeniably, regrettably fucked is more comforting and helpful than the most sage advice. Also, humor has its own way of fighting to the surface in the bleakest of times, and thank whoever's up there for that.
So the most honest answer as to why I made these cards is that I made them for me - partly as a reminder to hold onto those truths, partly as an attempt to pin down and articulate my own ceaselessly swirling thoughts and emotions, and partly because I still don't know what to do with myself so I might as well make some cards. I also hope that they bring the tiniest bit of comfort to anyone else struggling with loss or who loves someone who is similarly lost.
So here's a FUCK YOU, UNIVERSE set of three cards for the grieving. The intention is to give them in whatever order and timeframe, to someone who needs them. It can be days, months, or years after the fact, around a meaningful occasion or holiday, or even past when you think they need a card.
Because, in my experience, they do. Even if all you write inside is, “I don’t know what to say,” you will have said something important – you will have told them, “I see you, and I’m here,” and that can make all the difference.
With love & appreciation,
FUCK YOU, UNIVERSE: CARDS FOR THE GRIEVING
• THREE BLANK CARDS [Fuck You, Universe | Permission to Grieve | I’m Around]
• THREE ENVELOPES
• THREE 68¢ STAMPS
Each card is lovingly & individually hand-printed on an antique press in Somerville MA. You can get them here.