Saudade and Vilomah: May 25, 2019

Saudade*/Vilomah* May 25, 2019

*Saudade – a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent someone or something that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return. It brings sad and happy feelings together: sadness for missing and happiness for experiencing the past.

*Vilomah – to paraphrase, English has no word for the overwhelming grief a parent experiences over the death of their child. Perhaps, we hope, (like not saying Vilomah), if we don’t name it, it won’t be real. The Sanskrit word ‘vilomah’ which means ‘against a natural order’ perhaps caught on because we are unwilling to name the unthinkable. Our children should not precede us in death, if they do, we are ‘vilomahed.’
Exulansis: n. the tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it.

These are new words for us to add to our vocabulary because this post is in memory of Benjamin on what would have been his thirtieth birthday. Jay and I have learned so many new words, new emotions, new struggles and new insights since Benjamin died, so read on if you wish to learn more.

Some special Mara Moments followers know this experience firsthand and live Vilomah and Saudade as we do. However most do not so I’m putting my thoughts in this post today to help me process my own experience and to try in a small way to share thoughts with others to expand our collective vocabulary, so you in turn may be able to offer support to your inner circle if needed.

As I have become stronger I have felt obligated to speak more about my suicide survivor experience. I know there is a critical social need to communicate about mental health/emotional wellness and suicide awareness. I know we must have an ongoing conversation about mental health and dissolve the stigma around this topic. Unfortunately, I am uniquely qualified to contribute to this effort.

I have learned that by sharing my own experience and extending my voice to others I can find a respite while hopefully also helping others cope with their own difficult experiences. Creating and sharing Mara Moments is as helpful to me as is my special bond with Mara B and all the trail rides we go on together. Additionally, I feel kindness and support from you who receive my posts, so I thank you for that today as well.

I decided that Benjamin’s 30th birthday would be an ideal time to share some additional thoughts and quotes that have provided comfort, clarity or focus for me while experiencing my Saudade. I am sharing them as ‘Benjamin gifts’ to us all today; may they be supportive, enlightening and/or encouraging for those who read them.

Because when someone dies by suicide, research shows that at least 6 people are intimately traumatized by the death. Those who are directly affected may be immediate family members, relatives, neighbors, friends, fellow students/and or coworkers, so it is important to know that the underlying structure of grief for survivors of suicide loss is intricately complicated. Thus, I thought, maybe there is a broader audience for these thoughts and quotes.

Don’t fake how you feel.

I’m in the tribe of after: telling the truth about grief and trauma.

“The death of a child is so painful, both emotionally and spiritually, that I truly wondered if my own heart and spirit would ever heal. I soon learned that I could help myself best by helping others.” Barbara Bush

Maybe say “I’m sorry this happened to you.”

The 3 C’s of life: choices, chances, changes. You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change.

Trauma creates change you don’t choose. Healing is about creating change you do choose. Michelle Rosenthall

Anything that costs you your peace is too expensive.

Stop minimizing and discounting your feelings – Daniell Koepke

Social anxiety disorder affects 15 million American adults, yet despite its prevalence, it’s a misunderstood mental illness.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are wounds that don’t show on the body but are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds. Please don’t wait until you break to seek help for what hurts.

Please be sensitive how you talk about suicide. Say that a person “died by suicide” and never “committed suicide” since this is a result of mental illness, not a criminal act.
Grief lasts longer than sympathy. Elizabeth McCracken

Depression can be hidden by a smile – think of Kate Spade.

“This is a thing many people outside your grief cannot understand: that you have not simply lost one person at one point in time. You have lost their presence in every aspect of your life. Your future has changed as well as your ‘now’.” – Megan Devine

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou

Let’s always remember that a survivor’s story is a glimpse into a highly complex and extremely difficult experience. Their story is theirs and theirs alone, and it’s nobody’s right to question it. Our role is to hear it, not judge it.

Traumatic experiences are almost impossible to articulate; because of the complexity, horror, confusion, fear and other feelings such as shame, guilt or uncertainty.

It’s ok not to be ok every day.

Accept that its uncomfortable to talk about suicide but decide that it’s ok, we must talk about it.

Practice getting good at practicing

Be an upstander not a bystander

“Horses change lives. They give our young people confidence and self-esteem. They provide peace and tranquility to troubled souls; they give us hope.” – Toni Robinson

Emotional pain is not something that should be hidden away and never spoken about. There is truth in your pain, there is growth in your pain, but only if it’s first brought out into the open. – Steven Aitchison

You have to have been through it to truly understand it.

In conclusion please remember: no matter your role, whether it is starting the conversation, providing support, offering hope, or directing those in need to help, we can each play a role in supporting a person who needs emotional or mental health support.

benjamin horse country day croppedbenjamin peter horse color croppedbenjamins bench flowersjay benjamins library

Memories of Benjamin and his bench and library today.

To Benjamin from Mom and Dad – 5/25/2019
Jewish Prayer of Remembrance
by Jack Riemer and Sylvan Kamens
In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
We remember him.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
we remember him.
In the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring,
we remember him.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
we remember him.
In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
we remember him.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
we remember him.
When we are weary and in need of strength,
we remember him.
When we are lost and sick at heart,
we remember him.
When we have joys, we yearn to share,
we remember him.
So long as we live, they too shall live,
For they are now a part of us,
as we remember them.

Jay, Peter and I are donating to Sip of Hope – Hope for the Day where I have an Agent of Impact page and Regions Hospital-Make it Ok program in Memory of Benjamin for his 30th Birthday.
Moving on/forward is a monumental task, yet we continue on….. I sincerely thank you for your part in my journey. Helen

If you are new to Mara Moments, I invite you to ride along with us at:



Helen, Jay and Mara B are on thoughtful downtime today.
Peace to all who read this.

Mara B resting

Bo and a Killdeer

Mara B and I met up with Bo on our ride this afternoon, he was already ‘out’ exploring so when we rode into his territory he simply joined up with us! I really like having Bo along on our trail rides, he’s in and out of the woods, today he chased a deer then came running back to us adding exciting action to our ride.

We used this unplowed field as our huge outdoor arena space and did serpentines, big circles and figure eights plus rode the perimeter both directions. We could hear a Killdeer, and it even tried to distract us away from its nest but we had to search and search to locate the nest, and then we found it! Having mama bird stay on the nest for me to take these photos made my day. Mara didn’t intimidate her, and Mara didn’t mind the noisy bird flapping her wings at us I guess.

What a special treat, I was thrilled to get this close and hope all is well for them in the days ahead.

Returning to the barn, Bo went right to a puddle. Horse, dog and bird made for pleasant companionship, and I enjoyed them all this afternoon.

Pepper and the Dirt Bike

Mara B and I were off on a low key easy late afternoon ride when on our return trip home we met up with Pepper and her owner Mackenzie. They had previously boarded at River Brink, and that’s how I know them.

Nice to see those two and to chat for a minute, then we continued on towards our barn when the neighborhood kid on the dirt bike appeared on the trail! Mara should be used to the dirt bike action but she used it as a way to momentarily loose her focus! So no photos of the dirt bike, I was concentrating on my mount. I regained her attention, waved off the kid on the dirt bike and home we went. An example of trail riding situations you cannot predict.

In & Asphalt

After the rain, Mara B and her paddock pals are back in slop. When I rounded the corner to greet her, I could see her reflection in the ‘paddock pond’ that should not be there.

We embraced riding ‘in’ again this afternoon and really enjoyed our trot time before heading outside. We stayed on the asphalt roads because the ground is so saturated.

The road was an alternative route due to wet conditions, but still providing some incline work and a change of scenery for Mara B today.

Grooming and a nibble for Ms Mara completed our visit.

1/2 In 1/2 Out

Mara B was waiting for me today! Half of our afternoon ride time was in the indoor arena due to very gusty winds. I enjoyed our warmup trotting circles and Mara seemed to as well.

However I’m drawn to ride outside so we also took a swing around the stable grounds and up, down & around a back field. Mara gets to extend her legs and climbing the slight incline of the hill is good conditioning for her. It feels satisfying to me to ride outside but I will admit the wind got the best of me on the way home this time.

Mara B was a good horse and a real trooper! We all know weather plays a big factor in trail riding.

Green Blue White

Mara B and I had just about the perfect ride together this afternoon! She was wonderful, the day glorious and the colors around us very sharp and vivid. Lush green, blue blue sky, white fluffy clouds plus a sprinkle of springtime yellow tossed in, surrounded us everywhere we looked.

A light breeze came up as we headed home and I caught this picture of Mara’s white mane!

It looked magical to me. Everything came together on this ride for what I’d call a near perfect human|horse|nature connection, or close enough. Sweet!


This afternoon Mara B and I explored some territory we rarely have access to. With some gates closed and some gates open, we did some exploring for a little change of pace. We both throughly enjoyed it!

Some beautiful spots and lovely springtime aromatherapy for us to savor.

A lovely ride with Mara B before a weekend of expected rain. Happy weekend friends.

Back View

Mara B and I had a solo ride around the two back fields that have not yet been planted. Observing a burst of spring growth this first really warm day of May. Our rest in the shade was actually welcome and refreshing.

Rarely is the back pasture gate open, however today it was, so we rode through those gates for a little exploring. Thus today’s photos show the back view of the stables indoor arena and back paddocks where Mara B lives.

We stopped and took in the back view for a few minutes, then spotted these darling purple flowers on the way back the the barn.

I delight in spotting the small, simple treats of nature, then sharing them with you.

Please Ride Along

Here’s an extra long post filled with Peter’s pictures of our lovely ride today! Haley and Noel joined us. Peter was the fabulous photographer who among other things ran ahead, stayed behind, climbed the deer stand, and squatted on the ground to beautifully capture this ride and preserve the memories for me in these pictures. Enjoy!

A super special Mother’s Day gift for me, as well as delightful to share with our marvelous Mara Moments followers. Thank you Peter and Happy Trails to all who read and enjoy this post.

Circular Route

Mara B and I had a very pleasant ride today, walking a circular route past Julie’s, (where we did get to chat with her too.) We continued along past her horses and along the woods on the edge of the hay field. Covering ground we had not ridden since last fall which felt good.

The sky was gorgeous, the fields so peaceful and Mara B was focused on her riding partner rather than Rosie! Which all made for a fun ride.