Me: do you have a ritual you do when you lose someone close to you?:
“When I was seven years old during one summer my cousin who was three years older than me passed away right around her birthday. She had a rare heart condition that no one really know about… I was with my younger cousin who was visiting me when we both got the call and found out. Now whenever I see a heart shaped rock I always pick it up for her.”
Me: When did you start doing that?:
“I started doing it right after it happened I think. When we went to her actual funeral we all put heart shaped rocks on her grave during her ceremony, and ever since then it’s been something I’ve always done.”
Background: Zoe is a twenty-year old girl from Aspen, Colorado and currently attending USC.
Context: Zoe told me this story at brunch discussing the pain of experiencing a family member who passes away.
Analysis: I was very touched by this story that she shared with me because losing someone important to you is a very intimate, difficult, and emotional thing to share. I have been fortunate enough to only have lost one person in my immediate family in the years I have been alive, so I could not fully understand what losing a close friend or cousin would feel like at such a young age. Everyone has a different understanding of what happens after death and what capacity we have to maintain in contact with the deceased when we are still living. I think collecting something beautiful that reminds you of a special person you lost is a really amazing way of remembering what they meant to you. Zoe has a physical manifestation of remembering her cousin, which I think is a really incredible away of believing that she is seeing a little piece of her cousin every time she comes across a heart-shaped rock in nature.