Eight Steps for Mapping the Topography of Grief
11.) Begin by naming places on your map that you do not want to forget. The name of your loved one, the beginning and the end. You have become a toponymist now, a namer of places.
22.) Draw the elevations, the ridgelines, and deep, deep canyons. You will need such places from which to scout a route or to hide on those wicked days of sorrow. The proximity of the curving elevation lines will determine which routes will be too steep and which, even on difficult days, will give you a sufficiently wide ledge upon which to lay, contemplate, and pray.
33.) Add cities, suburbs, flash-by-towns, tree houses, trailer courts - places where you might find commiserating souls. Mark them. Coffee shops, internet cafes, libraries. You will need details. Start with one location. Two. Color-code your options for levels of hopeful contact.
44.) With permanent ink, illustrate the location of the cemetery or with dashing and swift lines show where the ash and bone fragments flew from your hand. Footnote the epitaph.
55.) Add the rivers and the seas. Find where the tears flowed in streams and eventually washed onward, beyond you, joining others in the salty waters. Designate the lowlands where tears seeped back into the earth, nurturing fresh life.
66.) Design roadways, byways, lanes, and paths. If your grieving is brief, then you will need only one super-highway upon which to hurry off to other pages of your map book. Otherwise, draw your roads crisscrossing. The spaces inside the grid design will look like sticky-notes. Leave them blank until you have regained your interest in details, in observations of hilarious and obtuse facts. It will happen.
77.) Draw a rectangle. In it, put the title: The Key. Grieving causes forgetfulness. Map keys are important to maintain your sanity, to remind you where you have put things of significant import and feeling.
88.) Lastly, sign your name at the bottom and date the map. One day this map will be stored and then, only occasionally, will you take it out to reexamine it. Noting its date, you will realize that time has passed and you have left the Map of Grief and traveled onward.
Preface to Mapping the Topography of Grief - a Travel Memoir