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, March 22, 2017

Grieving For Society

The Call to Be Creative

When I was swimming in grief's minestrone soup, one of the realities that helped me cope was the sameness of life outside my house. Every day I could mindlessly commute to work, do my job, come home, watch TV, sleep.

Then 9/11 happened, a few months after my wife died, and my grief was swept up into the larger grief of the world. I had no sanctuary from death. Because I didn’t have cable, even TV wasn't a refuge because of its unrelenting coverage of the terror and destruction.

What do we do when it’s society we grieve, when its fabric is being torn apart?

What happens when we no longer trust our institutions or the people running them to do what’s right?

Those who grieve can tell when people act like they want to comfort them but really don’t care. “Your wife died so young! Such a tragedy. Could you hand me the sack of potatoes?” We learn to detect the false fronts that people present, and we’re able to spot the brazen, poppycock promises of politicians who want to stuff people into tidy boxes of “us” versus “them.” Life is messier than simple agendas. The world is more complex than one-step solutions.

They pull the veil of fear over our compassion for others

When we don’t know the people in our neighborhood, when we aren’t helping take care of people down the street, we end up looking out only for ourselves, and forget who we are as a people.

We need artists of truth who stand up in the face of the diatribes of hate:

- musicians who play the songs of protest against wrongs
- painters who reach into the darkness and bring back shards of light
- writers who create the stories of courage and heart
- storytellers who fire up our imaginations and tell us not to be limited by what we see
- solitaries and mystics who dream the deep resonance of souls

We are all creative in our own ways, and we have a responsibility to use this.

Turlough O’Carolan, the blind Celtic harpist, was asked in the early 1700s why he composed songs of joy in the midst of such dark times in Ireland. He said that when it is the darkest, that is when people need to be reminded that the dawn will come and the sad times end.

Our flame still burns, my friends. Today’s darkness will not put it out.


  1. The Challenger exploded 3 weeks after my child was killed. You have eloquently stated a truth. Thank you.

    1. Andi, may we both find a place of resolve and peace.

  2. Thank you for a beautiful, much needed post.

    1. You're welcome. I was trying to find a way to not blame but encourage people.