Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Grief is a Rose is a Rose is a What?

Let’s see if I can say this without getting sappy. “Rose” and “grief” will be used interchangeably.

A rose is a rose is a rose. Well, yes and no. Grief IS what it is, but all griefs are not the same. Gertrude Stein said that to make a point, that each rose in unique, different. (Unlike hybrid corn where each ear is a clone to millions and millions of other clone ears.) If you haven’t grieved, you don’t see the rose and are probably wondering how anything as gnarly, chaotic, and traumatic as grief could be compared to a flower.

Grief, like a rose plant, starts off as a thicket of thorns that prick anyone who comes too close. We are always aware of it, even when we’re indoors. The gangly green plant ends up creating a beautiful rose that those who have been attentive to grief can see.

In grief, a point of beauty coalesces in the space opened up by death.

The rose starts small and grows in color and scent until we experience an intense nexus, like warming our hands on a hot cup of tea on a raw, cold day. We find clarity of vision about what is important. In the struggle between life and death, we discover a place where the two touch and coexist.

Slowly, oh so ever slowly, grief begins to fade. From always being aware of it in the first months, seeing it in the yard and smelling its scent on the breeze, one day we realize that we have forgotten about it for a moment. Then we feel guilty, because how could we forget our loved ones who died, and forget our grief that reminds us of them? Despair mortar and pestles us into dust.

Later we forget again, then again, and each time it’s for a longer period. Eventually grief is no longer a constant, weighty presence but has become a shadow, and its petals are on the ground.

We trim away what remains, and in doing so we encourage new life to grow. Yet we mourn grief’s passing because it has been a faithful companion, always around when we needed someone. We are alone again, and wish that the intensity of grief could linger for a while longer.

Grief lives under dark, overcast skies, but it shelters a beautiful rose in a time set apart. 

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