Lisa Levart, the visionary photographer who somehow brings women to an awareness of themselves as embodying the essence of goddesses of the past, discussed grief, guilt, and happiness in her recent article on Huffington Post. Her discussion was housed in the fact – the sad fact – of her mother’s Alzheimer’s and her family’s inevitable decision to place her in a care facility when the day-to-day challenges became too much for any one person to manage.
Soon after this decision was made, Lisa met with Dianne Gray, the President of the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation and founder of Hospice and Healthcare Communications. Dianne has suffered tremendous losses in her own life, and has turned her experiences and the compassion that has grown from them into positive energy for helping others with their own losses and grief. When Lisa expressed her sorrow and guilt over placing her mother in a care facility, Dianne had a different view to offer – not what you might expect. She didn’t say “It’s not your fault,” or “at some point you have to take care of your own needs.” Instead she offered wisdom that wasn’t just about Lisa or just about her mother, but rather was about the whole situation, seen with a very healthy perspective. She pointed out, said Lisa, that “With my mother’s day-to-day needs now being taken care of by the nursing home staff, I could give her what no was else could – a daughter’s love.”
And about the guilt, Dianne said this: “Guilt can be an emotional placeholder, beckoning us to live in the past, not the present.” Now there’s a powerful statement, and if you’re a woman over 50, no doubt it applies to you.
Lisa photographed Dianne the day after their conversation during a wildly changing confluence of thunderstorms, clear skies, dolphin sightings, and rainbows. Kind of like life. For the photo shoot, Dianne embodied White Tara, the Tibetan Goddess of Compassion for Lisa’s lens. It was a joyous moment for both Lisa and Dianne, and the resulting photo, now included in Lisa’s book, Goddess on Earth, tells us something so true, if we allow it to be true: grief is a part of a happy life.
I can’t wait to listen and learn from Lisa this November at Women At Woodstock 2015, to perhaps come to see myself in a different light, and to have her capture that new self-awareness when she takes my photo. Will I see an image of my true self?