Grief and Compassion Must Have Wings

Dear friends,

For several years now I've kept myself to a Monday deadline on this blog--it keeps me writing about my studio practice, my craft projects, collaborations, and any other inspirational news that seems to fit neatly, or not-so-neatly, into the category of "art+life". I treasure this space, this weekly commitment, and this community I've found in all of you. But sometimes life forces me to step outside of the normal content to express what is most pressing. Because, ultimately, there is very little divide between the various parts of our hearts and heads and busy crafting hands.

This weekend I lost a very dear childhood friend in a horrible car accident. As if that wasn't enough, his entire family was in the car with him and we also lost his wife. The details of the story are nothing short of tragic so I'll suffice to say that, fortunately, their three children have survived without fatal injury and are with the extended family now. It's almost too much to write in this space but I wanted to show up here and write something. And so here I am.

I keep trying to turn my swerving emotions towards compassion, tenderness, and peace. I keep trying to imagine what compassion would look like as an object not an attribute. Ultimately, I'm sure that it has wings. And so I keep thinking of these wings. Maybe seagull wings or eagle wings or smaller and more familiar like a sparrow or a wren. And tenderness? Maybe it has fins. Maybe flippers. Maybe a horse's mane or a unicorn's horn or something metal like an airplane. And peace. I imagine it is an arc of light like a rainbow that I can send.

I imagine that by next week I will want to return to my usual "art+life" posts but today I can only express my grief. The huge space in my heart that feels like a silhouette of where my dear friend should be. I have to believe that, at the very best, the burden of grief can also open us to the deepest possibilities for compassion. So thank you for sharing this space with me, even in the moments when I'm not sure what I might have to offer, or where I should begin.



  1. Thank you for your beautiful post. I remember him as well, and he was very friendly to me at a time in my life when I most needed it. I regret not knowing him better or keeping in touch with him.

  2. so sorry for your lose....life is sure fragile isn't it?....we should all come with a "handle with care" sticker permanently attached....thank you for your sweet , transparent post today.

  3. So sorry to hear that. I think your visualization and trying to steer towards compassion is just right. Don't forget to save some compassion for yourself, especially if you are having a hard time maintaining compassion and peace! It can be a lot to ask of yourself in a time like this.

  4. Dear Katrina, I cannot imagine, in my wildest nightmares, something so horrific to bear. I can hardly imagine life now for the children. Thank you for your blog post as it is such a wonderful reminder of all we have to be thankful for and to our hold our loved ones tighter and tighter. Thank you for posting. Your words were beautiful. ~ Dori ~

  5. hi lady.
    just popping in to say hello.
    and deliver a hug. i'm sos o sorry for your loss.
    grief is never a fun companion.

  6. been thinking on you a lot this week dear one. xxxooo

  7. Katrina, my heart aches every day thinking of you, of your friends and about their children. Any parents worst fear realized. Hug your family close and take things day by day. And grieve, don't be afraid to grieve. Hugs, my friend.

  8. dearest katrina, this is heartbreaking beyond words. may there be joy and happiness and love for their children and loved ones after the grief. may a piece of such dear friends become a part of you and all those who loved them. sending love your way.

  9. We always have hope that bearing their grief will lighten the families heart. Nate and I have been reeling from this, and thinking and feeling and hurting. I cannot even begin to feel what the families are feeling and how hard this is to bear. I am sorry for this loss to them and to you, and to all that they touched in their brief lives. I cannot begin to ask why, but I can only reflect on the fact that they had one another, felt real love and did leave their legacy, and it is a beautiful one. Sending love and healing your way as best that I can.

  10. Thank you, friends old and new. I am grateful for your kind words and loving reminders. Truly, they were little lights in a very dark week of sadness. Thank you.

  11. Anonymous4/04/2013

    Katrina, I'm so sorry for the loss of your friends. I live in Ithaca, NY, and work at Cornell. There have been several emails going around about (what I think) is the same family (Ryan and Karen). If so...I just wanted you to know that there is a charity auction and event planned to help the trust for the children's fund. It's April 20th in Big Flats NY. Maybe you know Amanda Simpson , the woman planning the events? Here is the Facebook link to the charity event. With love, wendy


Thank you for your comments, friends. I like to think we are creating a dialogue in this space--building a virtual community.