Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post a reflection on grief as I continue to explore its landscape and listen to you. In the sharing of our stories with each other, we find encouragement and build a community of support.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Comfort in a Time of Grief

You know how it is when you suffer a tragedy and pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and are happy again in no time at all? Neither do I.

When we’re deep in grief, there’s not much we can do to get out of it. There’s little that anyone can say that softens the impact of our loved one’s death. When we’ve moved further on in grief, we’re more understanding, but it will never be all right that our loved one died.  

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Broken Hallelujah

I'm delighted, and slightly snockered, to share the news that my essay on my mother’s work as an artist and her struggle with dementia, “Broken Hallelujah,” was published by the Chautauqua Literary Journal this month. It also won the journal’s Editor’s Prize and will be nominated for a Pushcart Prize later this year.

Unfortunately, the essay isn't available online. However, you can order a copy of the physical journal at the following link. Specify that you want the 2019 issue: 

Thanks, 
Mark

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Grief's New Normal

Recently I used the term “the New Normal” in a post to describe the time when we’ve put our life back together after the death of a loved one. This irritated some people. Is the New Normal a specific term or a generic description? Does it imply to some that we’ve stopped mourning and moved on with our lives? 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Being Creative with Grief

After being batted around by grief for a time, many of us want to do something creative with grief’s raw materials and regain a measure of control. The writer Isak Dinesen said that when she could put her trauma into a story, then it could live there instead of inside her. I don’t compose music, paint, dance, weave, or create sculptures, but I do write, and I wrote down every memory, image, and insight that came, and shaped them into essays and poems.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Finding Strength in Grief

As we follow grief’s advice, we are discovering that we have an amazing amount of strength. In the beginning, we weren’t sure we would survive this worst thing that could ever happen.

We have a right to grieve because people we love have died. They died too soon, and they died before we were ready. They were an important part of our lives, and their absence leaves a hole. We are learning to live with this.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Choices

Before the death of my loved one, I often lived for the future, dreaming about what life would be like one day, putting off dinners and nights out to save money for it. In grief, the opposite was true and I lived in the past because I couldn’t imagine a future without my loved one in it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Chrysalis of Grief

After we have dealt with grief for a period of time, we will reach a point where it feels like we are turning away from our loved one and moving on. We probably are, even though we don’t want to.

We will have changed some aspects of our life. Maybe we have given most of their possessions away and reset our home. Perhaps we’ve been taking care of a child or elderly parent, and we now have empty hours each day when we don’t know what to do. Maybe it’s been 10, 20, or 30 years since we lived by ourselves, and we’re learning who we are as a single person. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The New Normal










Let’s say we’ve adjusted to the death of a loved one to some degree. We’re back at work. We’re cooking, shopping, and taking care of the house. We’re gathering with friends and talking about something other than grief like sports, politics, and the sale going on at Kohls Department Store.

Hopefully we no longer feel like a victim but a warrior because we have battled tremendous forces and survived. We understand our emotions better, and we feel ourselves transforming into someone different, perhaps someone we’ve always wanted to be. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Parts Missing

C.S. Lewis wrote that dealing with grief was like adjusting to life with one leg amputated. He said our whole way of life changes, and that while we may get around pretty well, we will probably walk with a limp and have recurrent pain for the rest of our life. After his wife died, Lewis didn’t think he would ever walk smoothly again.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Hospice Journey

If someone you love has died, you may be familiar with hospice. If you aren’t, a good and compassionate introduction is a new book by Larry Patten, A Companion for the Hospice Journey. Patten carefully lays out what hospice is, what the different people on the hospice team do (doctor, nurse, social worker, home health aide, chaplain), and answers the common questions people have.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Grief and Emotions

When grief hits, we are pummeled by a range of emotions. We never knew we could feel so much, endure so much, or rage for hours until we were exhausted. Grief unleashes a barrage of emotions that short circuits our mind and leaves us sobbing on the floor. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Body and Grief

Grief hits with the force of a dump truck, leaving us battered and achy for months. Every morning we wake up, remember that our loved one is dead, and the truck runs over us again. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Talking with Our Dead






Sometimes I hear the voice of a family member who has died, or I feel their presence. Is it real?

Out of the blue, I will think to send something to a friend in another state. When it arrives three days later, it’s exactly what she needed that day. How did I know? Is something going on beyond coincidence? We are more connected to each other than we think, both to the living and the dead.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Community of Grievers

When someone we love dies, friends tend to disappear, and it's easy to feel abandoned. 

In our struggle to survive a death, it’s important to assemble a community of people to help us deal with the impact of grief. Left on our own, we would curl up in a corner until we dried into a prune. Unfortunately, many of our friends won’t know what to say or do for grief, and will keep their distance. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Darkness of Grief

When grief comes, sounds go mute, the world fills with shadows, and we feel cold all the time. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Connected by the Threads

Because we are busy with goals, deadlines, and responsibilities, we often treat objects like objects. We don’t pay attention to their origins, nor do we honor them for their life.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Landscape of Grief

When someone we love dies, we not only lose them, we also lose the world they lived in. We lose our sense of PLACE, and no longer know where we belong in the world.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Grief of Dementia

We grieve when someone we love dies. We also grieve when a loved one is disappearing into dementia.

Leaving Tinkertown, written by Tanya Ward Goodman and published by the Univ. of New Mexico Pressis a brutally honest account of how a family fought against the incursions of Alzheimer’s, and their anguish at being unable to stop the disintegration. It’s also heartwarming to read because we see the family’s love for each other bringing them strength to endure when little else did.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Longing of Saudade

Nine years after Evelyn’s death, I stood on the coast of Maine at dusk looking over the Atlantic Ocean, feeling what I have come to know as saudade, a Portuguese word for profound melancholic longing. I desperately yearned to see Ev again, knowing that I never would. She died suddenly, and I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Cooking with Grief

Everyone once in a while, a book on dealing with a life-threatening illness catches my attention because it deals with anticipatory grief. Recently it was Karen Babine’s All the Wild Hungers: A Season of Cooking and Cancer, published this year by Milkweed Editions.