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, 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.

 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Is Grief a Room or the House?


             What is the most devastating loss we can experience? Is it the death of a parent, spouse or partner, child, pet, or best friend? Or is it the loss of a marriage, the destruction of a wilderness, belief in our self-worth, or trust that our society will do the right thing? 

 

One of Suzanne Roberts’s friends said that ‘grief used to be one room in the house, but after their son died, grief was the only room.’

 

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Place Without Boundaries


 The death of someone close pulls us out of our normal life and throws us into a place that exists between the world of the living and the world of the dead. We feel alone and isolated by the trauma. People don’t understand the importance of the words we haltingly speak. We feel detached from everything we have known and trusted, and abandoned in a place without any familiar landmarks. We feel hollowed out, like the Clothespin giant sequoia in Yosemite whose center was burned out by a fire, yet continued to live. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

When Death Comes


 

When we fail to protect our people, and death comes,


every community should pause with its grief,

society should close its businesses, stop all its normal activities, 

and come together for a day to collectively grieve,

 

to mourn with our hearts, and not just with words,

to acknowledge our failures and mistakes,

to gather the wounded and hurting and console them,

 

to say that what happened was wrong and that what we did wasn't enough,

to take the necessary steps to prevent this from ever happening again,

and resolve that it never will.

 

                        Mark Liebenow

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Finding Refuge from a Broken Heart



             In the first months after the death of a loved one, grief walks with our hearts 24 hours a day. Often it confronts us and says “Pay attention.” Throughout the first year our hearts feel heavy, battered, drained, and it’s hard to care about much of anything. 

            When the pounding on our hearts becomes too much, and our friends are frustrated trying to answer our questions that have no answers, where do we find refuge? Movies, sports, yoga?

 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Sharing a Cup of Tea


             Each year we set out full of good intentions and resolutions. We set up plans for self improvement, with ideas and strategies for what we can do every day to make ourselves better (physically, mentally, spiritually). Take them with a pinch of salt. Rather than create a list of 20 things that you have to do every day (which I did for almost a year and ended up improved but more miserable than happy), resolve to do what nourishes you.

 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Music to Grieve By

 


            There’s a soundtrack for the movie of our grief. In the beginning of grief, there were certain songs that we played over and over to hold ourselves together, to comfort us, remember, and cry. Our playlist changed over the months as we felt the need for encouragement, inspiration, and challenge. And there are those specific songs that turn us into a slobbering, blubbering mess even long after we have pieced our life back together. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Is There No Death?


             On anniversaries of death, we are faced with a choice, especially if our loved ones died more than a year ago. We can’t just say that it was great knowing them and move on, because we are still attached to the beauty and light that we saw in them. We also can’t give up on life and just mourn, because each day of life is precious. We learned this when our loved ones fought to live one more day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Widewe

 


When you lose a spouse or partner, there’s a term. You’re either a widow or widower. “Widow” comes from the Old English widewe, which has an Indo-European root meaning ‘be empty.’ 

 

It’s comparable to the Sanskrit vidh that means ‘to be destitute,’ and the Latin viduus that means ‘bereft. Each definition adds to our understanding of the experience, and they indicate that there is not one word to describe how it feels to lose a mate that we dearly love.

 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Grief Is a Wild Place

    


       
  Grief is a wild place.

 

            We like the idea of the wilderness because it’s unknown, and because what we know isn’t enough to calm our monkey minds. We need to believe that there is more to life than what we perceive on the surface, and the wilderness spurs our imagination—of primal fears, yes, but also of beauty, hope, and transcendence.

 

Grief is a wilderness. An ocean. A desert. A dark forest.

 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

How to Write About Grief


Writing about our grief is like wading into a mosh pit. There’s a lot of jumping and shoving going on, and it’s hard to describe everything we’re experiencing.


Writing in a journal each day helps us figure out what is going on, and keeps us working with grief. Isak Dinesen said that when we can put our trauma on paper, then it can live there instead of inside us.