Navigating my way from Grief to Grace….

It’s interesting how a death changes the dynamics of relationships.

When we dissolve into a fragile state, friendships are easily strained, seemingly well-established relationships can rapidly disintegrate and so much about life is questioned.

Having recently sunk to the depths of despair over the loss of life, I found I had no ability to cope with some difficult personal situations and must be honest, my behaviour at times was downright hideous causing relationship grief wherever I went.

A Balinese cremation is an incredible, emotional, respectful ceremony to release the soul into the next life. For me, it did not lessen the pain of loss of my friend.

A Balinese cremation is an incredible, emotional, respectful ceremony to release the soul into the next life. For me, it did not lessen the pain of loss of my friend.

The fact that I am a foreigner, female at that, living in a Balinese community where emotional outbursts and confrontations only result in a serious loss of face and respect, compounds my self imposed turmoil.

As I sadly reflect on some recent emotionally charged scenarios that left myself feeling exposed and vulnerable, I have made a decision. A big decision.

Time for some self reflection is needed.

Time for some self reflection is needed.

I need to bring a little “Grace” into my life. 

Make that a lot of “Grace”, I’m starting from a low base right now. Grace… let’s define this elusive state. There’s no room for misunderstandings or loose interpretations. A quick search on my thesaurus tool provides some much needed direction.

There’s a concise list of nouns that deliver heavy hitting clarity.




The list of synonyms reveals how much work I have to do.









This is not going to be an overnight transformation

I reached out for some help from friends who knew my situation and were willing to empathise rather than judge. A series of emails, Skype calls and “text therapy” set me on my path to graceful redemption. An upcoming Bali Ceremony was my test. This is how the day panned out….

  • Woke up full of resolve to be “Grace” personified.
  • Attended to essential emails, clearing the clutter in my Inbox.
  • Decided that I needed to work on my “outer Grace” first of all.
  • Asked Putu to drop me at Wayan’s salon (very Grace-like behavior, usually I would walk there under my own steam… so much more elegant to arrive on the back of the bike instead of in a pool of sweat).
  • Settled in for a manicure and pedicure, with polish, heaven forbid!
  • Nearly two hours later I am dropped home on the bike. Feet, legs and arms massaged, nails gleaming.
  • Leisurely lunch served by the lovely Arni.. in the company of my best friend Cantik, no talk required.
  • Suddenly exhausted, life catching up with me. I “gracefully” gave in and had a quick nap.
  • Woke up, ignored stuff that I should do to be my usual “I must be productive, don’t interrupt me” self. (Years of working project style with tough deadlines/targets has given me the ability to work with intense productivity that can be frightening to some).
  • Cleaned up my house, somewhat neglected of late, sorted clothes, giving considerable thought to what I should wear.
  • Washed my hair, sat on the step reading my book whilst hair cream bath does its best to rehydrate hair that has developed straw-like qualities.
  • Wandered down to the kitchen to get a nice chilled beer, resumed position on step with book and beer.
  • Make up, my favourite sarong, kebaya and silk scarf is on… with time to spare and without creating my usual human whirlwind along the way.
  • Back to my emails for a while, a bit of a distraction I must admit, but also energizing. There were some lovely positive emails for Sharing Bali business.
  • 8pm I walk to temple with Ibu Kabal, her husband and little Komang
  • Navigate road in dark without falling over, hair and makeup are still in place, yet to succumb to the intense humidity…. looking good so far.
  • Enter the area outside temple.. big crowds.. feeling calm, poised and dare I say it, a little graceful.
  • I spot my staff with their groups of friends. They all call out to me big smiles on their face. They are happy I am here.
  • Straight in to the inner temple to make offerings and wait for priest to start a prayer session. Loads of ladies saying hello and smiling.. the graceful feelings continue.
  • Back out to the main area with the crowds, heading to the food stall for a bite to eat with Ibu Kabal and friends. Perched on the edge of a rickety seat in the kitchen tent next to the cooking fire, smoke belching everywhere, I look around. I see only the beauty of the temple alive with the bustle of the ceremony.
  • It’s a long night. I hang out. I am never alone. Its like I am passed from one group to the next, everyone offering me coffee, making sure I have incense and flowers for the next prayer session. My staff keep catching my eye and smiling when they pass.
  • At the end of the night I’m ready to walk home, Agung dashes over.. do I need a ride home? I choose to walk with the Ibu Kabal’s family. I arrive in the village and Agus checks in with me to see if I need him to walk me to my house… I’m still floating along… I’m ok.
  • As I push open the beautiful wooden door to my Joglo house, Cantik leaps into my arms, paws all over me, full of excitement and happiness. It’s like I’ve been away for weeks. I indulge Cantik in a quick game of tug-of-war and at this point I don’t care if he messes up my hair and my sarong ends up a little bedraggled.
  • Sleep comes easily.

I’ve had a fairly easy day today… just taking the pedal off and thinking about what comes to you when you are kind to yourself and put yourself in the “graceful” state of mind. I have had good emails streaming in today for Sharing Bali. Another enquiry for Sharing South Africa, a new venture, which is a buzz. I did some yoga. I got started on some projects that had been languishing in the “I’ll get to that later” basket.

The voice of Captain Sensible buried beneath the surface is nagging me… “if you think every day is going to be at this pace, you are kidding yourself”. I am enough of a realist to acknowledge the truth in that, but there will be times on the future that I will be telling Captain Sensible to keep his opinions quiet. (in my most kindest manner of course).

Whilst death brings a close to a chapter in life, often with so much pain, there is light. Another chapter begins. Maybe this chapter has new characters, and some of the old characters need to be left behind. That’s new life.

Every one of the staff dropped by today to find out if I am going to temple tonight.

Yes I am.  I will be there trying to be the best version of the graceful me!

If you have some tips from your experience in achieving a life lived with Grace, overcoming Grief, please do share. I’m listening.



11 responses to “Navigating my way from Grief to Grace….

  1. Karen…. my thoughts on grief and grace
    we make room for grief with time, we learn to exist and live and love with and from Grace…
    grief does not leave, we learn to adjust, to live with it. Painful memories shift to make room for happy memories.


  2. You are a graceful, refined, poised and elegant lady with style and charm. These nouns and all the others listed above very much describe you. I have learned so much from you in the short time I’ve known you, Karen. Thank you for sharing. Much love to you xx


  3. Reading this one gave me goosebumps and brought a tear to my eye, beautifully written and an equally beautful message.
    Sometimes (or often) we need to just stop, take a step back and have a think about what we do on a daily basis and why we do it.
    Thanks for Gracefully sharing your story


  4. My thoughts and positive energy are with you; Andy sent me to this post. You wrote this beautifully and I feel your story telling can be a cathartic purge as well as an inspired read for people going through the loss of a loved one. Thanks for having the courage to share your story. We’ll be in Jimbaran on the 3rd; if we do make it up your way we should definitely get together.


    PS….please disregard my comment email; I need to use to comment on some WP blogs. You can reach me at:


  5. Pingback: Taking a tumble. River rock brings down my state of ‘Grace’. | Silk Sarongs·

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