There’s grief…and there’s grief.

In conversation with my niece recently, we discussed the vagaries of grief and how it refuses to be ignored.  It is the bottom line in loss: the common denominator no matter whom, how or what we lose.  It is the constant that is left to us when we have exhausted the ways in which we try to defray and dispel it.

When my sister’s grandchild died of cancer my heart was wrenched from my body.  I carried mental pictures of her in her tiny wigs and her laughter when her uncles shaved their heads in solidarity.  I thought it would help when our family built and lined the small casket for her.  But I was left a grief.

A serial killer murdered my niece in her college apartment.  I was horrified, anguished and frightened for my daughter who lived in the same city.  I thought I would feel better when they found the killer; or when they convicted him; or when they sentenced him: but the grief lived on.

My sister’s death from cancer left me with a small sense of relief.  The final days were long and arduous and I wasn’t sorry she died, I am sorry she got sick.  After her long fight, her death eased her pain and mine.  The loss was gradual as I watched her loosen her grip on her dreams to see her grandchildren grow up.  I carry a memory of her sorrow.   The relief of her death did not assuage the grief that began when she got sick.  I miss her all these years after her death.

Strangely, I felt happy when my brother-in-law died.   He felt he had lived out his time on this earth.  His desire to finish and move on was strong and evident. He lay in his bed and said aloud,  “I am ready to go.”  I have a serene confidence that he is better wherever he is.  But I miss the man who was always happy to see me.

No circumstance seems to change grief   In the end we are left with the hole it leaves in our days, weeks and lives.

It is like a newly dug spot in the garden that is wet, raw and evident in the gradations of color that differ from the soil around it.  Time fills the hole as the sides soften and crumble in.  The edges fade and blend.  The leaves fall, the seasons pass and time goes along.  But the indentation in our life stays with us.  It doesn’t trip us up so often, but it is there.  It leaves a space for our thoughts and memories.



One comment

  1. Thanks…you get it…For me one of the great moments of grief is thinking that I’m the only one whose life is standing still. Everyone else appears to be moving forward while I’m staying in one place.

    I totally get it, that I’m doing this to myself. If mom was alive she’d be shaking her head telling me to get on with life.

    As I reach into myself I find that she was the one person who was always there. No matter how annoyed I felt towards her and I’m sure she pounded her head against the wall at many of my actions also. There was a connection that was always there.

    She loved me. And I’m just not ready for that love not to be there anymore.


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