Dancing my Grief. ~ Sarit Rogers


Grief can be utterly crippling, taking our breath away as though we’ve been thrown down a flight of stairs landing smack dab on our solar plexus.

It has the ability to take a human down. I thought I understood it, but when I lost someone I loved, who was a grounding source for me, it was devastating.

In 2009, my grandmother passed. I knew it was coming; I expected it. It had been building for months, with long-term hospital stays, finally culminating in home care, but when she died, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, as though there was a tremendous weight on my chest, immovable and suffocating.

That was over three years ago, so why am I writing this now?

I grew up in a definitively dysfunctional environment. My parents were children when they had me—they were both under 20—and it was my grandmother who stepped in and provided the basics: who taught me manners, how to entertain and how to take pride in what I was doing. She was also the matriarch in a male-dominated family: three sons and a husband.

My grandmother fell victim to their abuses and used denial about their actions in order to save face. It was a behavior I didn’t understand and which created a deep-seated anger within me during my youth. There were times when my grandfather hit me in front of her and she would tell me it didn’t happen, or times when my father would tell me I was a mistake and she would shrug it off.

What I didn’t know at the time, and didn’t find out until years later, was that she was silently fighting for me. She was paying for my clothes and sending my absentee father the bill. She was inviting me to dinners without telling people first because she wanted me there. I was her only grandchild for almost 20 years and in being so, I represented a relatable female.

My grandmother, as a result of all of this, was my tie to family. She was my anchor and my beloved. We worked out our differences as I got older and, as I got older, my love for her grew exponentially. We shared the link to domestic violence, and we shared the seat of womanhood in a family fraught with conflicted male energy. It was an unspoken bond but it created emotional safety: something neither of us had ever had.

When she passed, I lost my anchor. I began to see my ship sailing away from any sense of family. When my grandfather passed two years later, my ship was entirely cut off from the fleet. What I was left with was my grief and my sense of being without.

But without what? Abuse? Shame?

I have a family of my own, one who loves me without condition and has inspired me to reignite my roots. I have a yoga practice that has taught me that I am my own resource. I have my photography, which allows me to communicate without words but with my heart.

Grief can do one of two things: it can shatter our heart to pieces or it can break it open.

Loss presents us with an opportunity to look at those broken pieces in earnest; rather than making a mosaic of the past, those pieces can be mirrors into the future. I see my beloved grandmother in everything I do: when I make jam, when I entertain guests, when I teach.

What I don’t see is shame and I don’t see abuse.

My old family is on the outskirts, doing the same dance of anger and resentment. Their grief transformed them into a mask of denial, and in a sense, writing this dangerous, raw piece pulls the hazy gauze free from their clutches.

Grief is inevitable: we grieve the losses of the tiny and monumental, but how we dance our grief is up to us. Is it a tango? A waltz? A two-step?

Shadows are made by light, the further in we go, the closer we come to the other side.


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Assistant Editor: Bronwyn Petry/Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photos: Courtesy of the author

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tio Feb 17, 2014 8:02am

thank you for sharing your dance. Your writing is wonderful and a worthy companion to your photography.

Sarit Z Rogers Feb 15, 2014 9:55am

Thank you so much, Elena! I am truly grateful.

Elena Feb 15, 2014 7:32am

A powerful testimony Sarit! It sounds like your grandmother did the best she knew how to hand you the light of love and you are doing the best you can to amplify that light to heal dysfunctional cultural patterns.

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Sarit Rogers

Sarit Rogers is a Los Angeles based photographer, writer, New Media Manager, yogi and founder of the LoveMore Movement. She has photographed the covers of 21st Century Yoga, Yoga PhD, and the forthcoming anthology, Yoga and Body Image. She is the Los Angeles photographer for the documentary…but can she play? Her images from this project were featured in Sweden’s Lira Magazine, including the cover image. Sarit regularly writes about mental health, addiction and recovery for Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers.

Sarit completed The Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind 200-hour yoga teacher training with Julian Walker and Hala Khouri as well as Street Yoga Teacher Training. Sarit is currently teaching the yoga elective to 6-8th graders at the City Charter School, and occasionally teaches yoga at Against the Stream‘s Young People’s Meditation Group, where she is also an active member of the sangha.

You can follow Sarit on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where you will inevitably see photos of her son, hubby, beloved Pitbull mix, Lulu, and images from her 365 Project.