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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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Chrysalis of Grief

I want my wife’s death to never have happened. Since this can’t be undone, I want grief to be over and never return. This is taking some time.

I want to write about the happy side of life again without always seeing the shadows. I want friends who have lost children, parents, or friends to laugh again without tears reminding them how deliriously delightful their lives once were, even if this isn’t completely true. There was enough joy to hold the darkness at bay.

There is a passage about Zorba being impatient to see the emergence of a butterfly. He warms the cocoon with his breath to hurry the process along, and the butterfly emerges, but it’s too soon in its formation and it dies. Zorba wanted to see its beauty now. He wanted to celebrate life now, not put it off. He goes through life like this, wanting to drink wine if it’s around, and love the women who want to be loved.

Grief has shortened my focus.

This fits me now because I know too clearly that people I love can die suddenly. Out of the blue. Today is the only time I’m sure I have. I want to go places and be with friends. I’ve got the traveling pants and the antsy shoes. Yet death has taken away my imagined future, and most of the time I don’t know which direction to head.

There is a natural evolution to the life of living things.

When my yearning meets what is being offered, I want to jump at the opportunity, even if I don’t feel ready. Even if I’d like to take time and think it over. Even if it scares the bejabbers out of me. Zorba would say ‘Take the risk,’ knowing that, sometimes, by rushing, the butterfly dies. There is a time to wait, and a time when we need to take the leap.

Maslow said that either we step forward into growth, or we step back into safety. For those who grieve, so much has been lost that we fear taking any risk and losing what little we have left. Most of the time we choose to step to the side and let the world pass by. There are times when we need to hunker down and wait for the snowstorm to end before we can see where on the mountain we stand.

Friends are waiting for those who are grieving to come out of their cocoons and be happy again, to play and laugh and dance.

I want this, too, but wanting doesn’t make it real. It takes time for life to transform from what it was to what it will be. I need to be patient and deal with the changes, as well as myself, with kindness. I need to be patient with you when you are grieving and let you decide when you are ready to share.

Grief is a chrysalis. So is love. Sometimes the process of emerging seems to move way too slow.


  1. Way too slow. But mostly worth the wait. It comes in drips and drabs. And when I think I'm headed in the right direction, things suddenly reverse. Setbacks. Ugh. More time. Need to learn to love the time. All the time.

    1. So right, Robin. I call it the Labyrinth, among other things. Patience isn't our strong suit.