Good Grief

I won’t cry for yesterday…There’s an ordinary world somehow I have to find…

~ Duran Duran

I don’t think much about grief. Thankfully, I’ve never really needed to. I’ve been touched by it, knocked over even, but grief has never crushed my soul. It’s never squared me up, slammed me to the ground and shattered me. I avoid thinking about grief, fearing that even acknowledging it might somehow invite it into my life.

Yet, I felt compelled to write about it. So, I asked for help. A friend whose son died by suicide. A high school classmate whose wife died of cancer. A co-worker who recently lost his father.

My questions were simple, yet complicated. Can you even begin to describe grief? Does time, in fact, heal? What do you wish people understood about your grief?

“Karen’s death has left a hole that will remain for the rest of my life,” Brian told me. “But I know over time that space will fill with other things and other people. It’s hard to imagine right now, but that is my hope.”

“Grief is part of me now – my constant companion,” said Roxanne. “It can be completely debilitating to the point I don’t have the strength to even shower. After it happened, I loved to sleep because I didn’t have to feel. But I hated sleep because I would wake up to face reality all over again.”

“I didn’t lose my dad,” said Rob. “I know exactly where he is. You know, the goal is not to stay. But dammit, I want to call him when golf is on and talk to him about it. It’s so strange that he can’t take that call.”

I learned so much having these conversations and carefully listening to their answers. I found hope woven through a complicated pattern of relentless pain. “A song, a smell, a memory of Zach can knock me to my knees,” Roxanne said. “Please tell people they can talk about him around me. You won’t ‘remind me that he’s gone.’ I can’t forget that he’s gone. It’s my every day now.”

As for you, dear reader trying to help someone grieving. Just show up. Don’t ask them what they need. They don’t know what they need, and they wouldn’t burden you with it if they did. Show up. Sit with them. Don’t try to say something that will make it better. That’s not a thing. Being there is enough.

“When the cards and notes stopped, that was day Zachary was forgotten by the world,” said Roxanne. “Please send cards and notes, especially on the anniversary of their death. It means everything.”

A heart that’s been broke is a heart that’s been loved – Ed Sheeran


It is a strong, often overwhelming emotion. All of my friends used the word, “numb” to describe the feeling.  Like waves crashing into rocks, time will help smooth the rough edges, but it’s normal and it’s healthy to grieve. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like it’s time to “get over it.” It’s not for them to decide. 

I’ve heard it said that a person grieving is forced to tap into different parts of themselves. Whether you’re grieving a death, a broken relationship, or loss of any kind, take your time. Grief is a form of love, and it has a place within you even as you move forward. It’s yours now. 

And as I try to make my wayTo the ordinary worldI will learn to survive…