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, January 23, 2019

Introverts and Grief

If you’re an introvert like me, you find it hard to share strong emotions even in the best of times. This presents a problem when we’re faced with grief, which is the worst. If left alone, we will choose to close the drapes and hole up until grief is gone. The problem is, grief isn’t going to leave without work.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Stone Monastery of Grief

To many people, the world of Grief seems like a big void, a large cavern of terror that everyone wants to flee, a place filled with utterly depressing chaos and rampaging emotions. It is. It’s also filled with amazing heart.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


As you start to walk on the way, the way appears. Rumi

We don’t get through grief by sitting on our butt. Well, okay, sitting is fine for a time, but grief is not going to leave on its own. We have to pay attention to what it is doing inside us. We have to walk with grief and listen to what it is saying.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New Year of Grief

The first New Year’s after a loved one dies, the future looks like a lonely, rocky coast. There is no celebrating. No late night dancing. No sparklers or blowing of horns. No party.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Winter Prayer

In the turning of the natural world back towards light,
may we so turn.

May we be grateful for what we have,
and mindful of the refugee, the battered, the widowed, the abandoned. 
May we realize when we have enough and share the rest.

Friday, December 21, 2018

10 Holiday Survival Tips

for Grievers and Friends

1  If you’re grieving, you don’t have to celebrate the holidays. Seriously. It’s your life. Go to parties only if YOU want to. If you don’t, turn the invitations down, and try to do so without swearing. It’s good to be invited, but you may not feel ready.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


I come to this season needed to slow down. Life has become too hectic again. There is so much that I have to do, and too much that I want to do. The holidays only add on extra chores and more activities. 

I need time to do nothing, at least for a few days, and move at nature’s pace. I want to be mindful of what I’m doing and speak only from my heart in my interactions with others. I don’t want to bounce through every day like a ball in a pinball machine. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Grief Doesn't Take a Holiday

(Baking Soufflés Against the Daleks)

If you’re grieving, the holidays are the worst time of the year. You’re expected to be happy, and if you aren’t, you feel even worse. Even if your someone died a few years ago, going through the holidays can bring their absence and your sorrow right back. 

Then smiling people in green elf hats and reindeer sweaters try to cheer you up, saying it’s not so bad. Sigh

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Alphabet of Grief

When we’re grieving, we call death a lot of names. As we find others who are grieving and form bonds of support with them, we begin to identify ourselves as a group and find names to call ourselves. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Winter's Light

(Advent and Hanukkah begin on Dec. 2 this year.)

When the year’s shadows are heaviest, when nights become long and cold, when feelings of self-doubt, despair, and death draw near, we light candles to push back the darkness that surrounds us. 

The light of stars, the roaring bonfires, the calm flames of candles remind us of people we’ve loved, dreams we’ve followed over the years, and the guidance of wise teachers. They call us to reclaim what stirs our passions, what brings us energy and meaning. They challenge us to care for those among us for whom the light has grown dim. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Grateful At the Table

On Thanksgiving we gather at many tables, some with family, some with friends. This holiday can be brutal on those who grieve because it insists that we be thankful, and on the first Thanksgiving after, all we may be able to feel is what we’ve lost.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Essay in Hippocampus Magazine

I was thrilled to find out this week that my essay “Artifacts” was named the Most Memorable essay in the July issue of Hippocampus Magazine. My essay deals with the struggle over our loved one’s possessions after they have died. What possessions do we keep to remind us of them, and what do we throw away?

This is the link: http://bit.ly/2z6kDWc

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

I Thou Grief

What we think about grief depends upon whether we’ve been inside the Theatre of the Absurd or we’re still standing on the street trying to look cool, wanting/not wanting to sneak in.

We can observe someone crying, overcome with emotions, face wet with tears, hands clenching and unclenching, and know what grief looks like.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

You Who Love the Dead

As you wait in the dark, be brave. 
Let your body feel whatever it feels. 
Let your heart drift unanchored.
For a time, be lost.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween and Holy Days

For a number of years, Halloween was a chore.I felt pressure to carve the gourds, dress up in a ghoulish costume, ooh and aah over neighborhood children who came to the door being cute, and dutifully eat whatever candy was left over, even if it had coconut. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Grief on TV

If you have ever grieved for someone, and especially if you’re grieving now, you’re sensitive to how dying, death, and grief are portrayed on TV. Much of the time, they serve as pivots for the regular characters to do what they normally do around it. They’re not the focus of the episode and the depictions are generally superficial. Now and then a presentation offers an important view into a part of life that most of us ignore.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Japanese American Resettlement

During World War II, roughly 120,000 Japanese Americans who lived on the West Coast of the United States were taken from their homes and put into concentration camps because of wartime hysteria and fear. The military commander of the West Coast felt they were a threat, and politicians went along with his assessment. They were sent inland to concentration camps with barbed wire and armed guards in isolated locations like Topaz, Utah; Manzanar, California; and Heart Mountain, Wyoming.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

In the Tender Early Light

After people we love die, there are certain times of the day when we feel the absence of their presence most keenly. These are moments frozen in time, and even if they happened a decade ago, they can feel as if they happened yesterday. Maybe it’s 5 p.m., the time when they would start cooking dinner. Perhaps it was something we would do together on Sunday mornings, like walk to the bakery for bear claws. Maybe it was watching a favorite television show every Thursday night. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Grieving Our Pets

Pets start out like children. They end up being our elders.

There are differences, of course. Some of our pets will never grow to be smarter than a fifth grader. The rest don’t think we need to know that they know what we want them to do. Our pets will never go to college or move out of the house.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Breaking Point

Sharing our grief is hard, no matter the cause. It could be the death of a parent, spouse, pet, or child. The death of a long-term, committed relationship can be just as devastating.

It’s made more difficult when we are sharing with someone who has never experienced a severe loss. We are trying to describe what’s going on inside, and there is nothing physical that we can hold up to show them. And if we haven’t grieved before, then we don’t know the landscape we are trying to describe. It’s like being dropped in a foreign land and trying to describe it to someone over the phone.