Every Wednesday

Every other Wednesday, I will post a reflection on the landscape of grief. This blog isn't just for widowers. It's for everyone who grieves. I want to encourage people to share their stories and compassion with each other, build up a community of support, and help everyone understand the trauma that death brings.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Pieces of the Puzzle

 One of the things I love about Lynn Haraldson’s book is that it shows how everyone’s journey through grief is different, and in profound ways. If you think that you understand the grief memoir territory after reading one grief memoir (although I do applaud you for taking this step), or even if you’ve read ten grief memoirs, you would be wrong, because each memoir is the story of a life, and each life is a cornucopia of experiences, discoveries, and struggles. Each story is a journey through a different wilderness. Stories like this are told from the heart, and there are never enough of them. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Laughter and Grief


The Troglodytes of Whimsy and Mercy

(This is from my essay that was published in Huffington Post a few years ago.)

For the most part, death isn’t funny.


“Grief” and “humor” aren’t often used in the same sentence. There are moments in the beginning of grief when we’re laughing hysterically, but generally that’s in the middle of the night and it’s not a happy sound. Or we’re laughing while standing by ourselves in the woods holding on to a tree to keep from falling down. Or we’re in the shower staring at the soap for five minutes. These moments are more about trying not to cry than anything funny.


Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Listening Again

 Sackcloth and ashes. Do we really need this?


If you’re grieving, you’re already feeling low and depressed about life, and there’s probably some anger and loneliness mixed in.


But today is Ash Wednesday, and Christians use this day to think about all the ways that they have messed up over the last year, where they feel broken, and how they have hurt others. It’s a day that lends itself to dwelling in dark basements.


Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Grief's Landscape

Grief’s landscape is as much a wilderness as the one in nature. To understand, we have to walk with them and listen.     - Mark Liebenow

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

The New Year Turning

The New Year is a turning from those who died last year. 
It's also a turning to.
                                               Mark Liebenow

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

The Woods at Dusk


In late December the woods are quiet at dusk. 


I stand in my backyard lost in the mystery of trees. Two squirrels chase each other through the snow and gathering shadows. I listen to trees creak in the breeze, and hear the soft click-click-click of empty sunflower shells landing on each other, dropped by wrens and finches at the feeder. The magenta of sunset flares across the sky then shifts to rose and deepens to the radiant night blue of the cosmos. 


Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Slow Us Down

Slow us down.

Life has become hectic again. There is too much that we have to do, and so much that we want to do, and the holidays have added on more activities. We want to step away from the tasks and deadlines for a moment and just breathe.


Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Halig Daeg


The Light and Darkness of Holidays          


            If we lost someone this year, the holidays are going to be traumatic. We won’t want to celebrate anything, and all the happiness being thrown around like confetti will only push us further into our dark rooms. What we want is for the holidays to be over, and we will try to ignore them as best as we can.


            Holidays used to be regarded as Holy Days (Old English – halig daeg), a time of centering and remembering. They offered people a chance to pause in their rushing about, look at their lives, figure out what they didn’t like about them, listen for spiritual guidance to make desired changes, and head off energized with a fresh wind in their sails. 


Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Listening For Cranes


Whether it’s someone we love who died or we’re looking for our birth parents, we are searching for something lost and hoping to find.

We are trying to give form to our shadows.


            With adoption, you’ve already lost growing up with your birth parents. Even if you have wonderful, considerate, and loving adoptive parents, you will wonder what this other life would have been like, and if who your birth parents are has influence your life in some unseen way. 


Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The Body and Grief

            Grief hits our body with the force of a dump truck, leaving us feeling battered and achy for months. Every morning we wake up, remember that our loved one is dead, and the truck runs over us again. Grief is visceral, yet its impact on the body is often ignored.


Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Grief Words


Writing the Shadows

            We need the words. How are we going to talk about grief without the words?


It’s difficult to talk about grief when the language we know comes from the back of a cereal box. We stumble around, find a few words that seem to fit, find other words that fit better, and our vocabulary begins to expand.


Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Telling Our Stories


Again … and Again


We tell our story of grief over and over because we want to understand this thing that has taken our loved one away and rerouted our lives. As we live through the months and years, new insights and details we've forgotten show up, so we revise our story and tell it again. 


Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Sloth and Avocado

 Jill Christman’s new book, If This Were Fiction: A Love Story in Essays, is about her life—being raped, falling in love, grief, PTSD, the struggle to recover herself and her sexuality, falling in love again, miscarriage, becoming a mother and trying to protect her children from every imaginable harm, with them telling her to let them be kids and learn how to gauge the risks they take on their own. Just like she did.


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Grief is a Boulder

Let’s talk rocks. 


Geophysicists have an idea to explain how rocks break down. It’s known as fragmentation theory. I think we all have a general idea how this happens but, according to Michael Welland, rocks go through six cycles of being liberated, buried, exposed, and liberated again as they are shaped by ice, water, wind, and time before they become sand.


Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Crumpled Grief

            While we would like grief to be a sprint, so that we could get to the end of the thing and return to whatever we have left of a normal life, often it feels like we’re slogging through a muddy field.


Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Child Loss


Michelle Cramer put out a book this year called Unshattered Grief. In it she shares stories of parents as they deal with stillbirths or the deaths of their older children.


The loss of a child is crushing because we never expect it to happen. It always feels wrong. At a time when expectations of joy are building for a new life, they are taken away and emptiness is left behind.


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Tabasco Night

 It’s Tabasco Night for two dozen people. You don’t know them, but you know enough about grief that you could walk up to any of them and share what’s percolating underneath or tearing you apart. They would listen, because they are that kind of people.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Politics of Mourning

 Every death is personal, and friends and family are grieving. It should not be used for a political agenda. Never lose sight of this.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Grief and A.I.


Recently, I read an opinion piece that worried that people would begin to think A.I. systems (Artificial Intelligence) were alive. Not long ago, my friend Judy sent me an article about A.I. system were being programmed to respond like a dead loved one. 


While I would appreciate the chance to converse with my dead wife again, I found the proposal rather creepy. Judy did, too. What I think bothered me the most was that the automated system wouldn’t be the real person, but that it would become a substitute for real memories. I didn’t want to begin thinking it was sentient in any definition of the word. I wanted my memories of Ev to be what they were.