Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Things About Grief

Grief is the worst party guest ever.  First of all, nobody invited him. It was supposed to be a fun evening, a chance to relax and God forbid—have fun. And everyone else is having fun, and speaking of things unrelated to Grief’s preoccupation, which only you know about because he whispers it in your ear any time he finds you alone in the kitchen, or the bathroom, or having a thought unrelated to the party. He’s always more than happy to remind you, when you forget.

Grief isn’t rational, not ever. No matter how many times you point out to him that his presence isn’t quantifiable or reasonable, not in any way that relates to time or space or influence in your actual, day-to-day life; no matter how many ways you try to explain him away, he doesn’t care. He stands there, defiantly, staring you down.

Grief has magical, infiltrating ways. Say, for instance, you’re out enjoying a very nice concert. Grief can travel in the strains of a piano, or the lyrics of a song, even one that’s not meant to be particularly sad. Grief can hijack a perfectly nice scent—like cologne, for example—and attack your senses before you even realize what has happened.

Grief loves company. Nothing recharges his batteries more than having a roomful of people to feed on. It’s where he lives, like a virus. 

Grief also loves to be alone. With you, anyway. Because that’s when he can really focus and gets things done. Much like a poet or artist who needs solitude to concentrate and create, Grief does his best work in a quiet room, with no distractions.

Grief is like a friend you can always confide in, but he’s also like the friend who sometimes has several drinks and talks too much. You can forgive Grief, because everyone needs an outlet once in a while, only you wish he wouldn’t have dumped on you this time (again).

Grief is a dark, gray evening and a bright, sparkling morning. He is high noon sunshine and the blackest part of night. He is rain, and snow, and everything that absorbs back into the earth.

Grief accepts no apologies, doesn’t need them. He’s good like that.

Grief stays away from very small children, mostly, and they are the only true antidote against him. Sometimes, he can be deterred by great beauty, such as you find in art or nature, but often he uses it as a shield and weasels his way right in.

You can move to a new house, or travel, or change your habits or job, and I’m pretty sure Grief will find you no matter what. He’s his own GPS. It’s almost a comfort at times, knowing he’s there, although you hope he'll keep his distance. He doesn’t always have good manners or social skills; he can’t read cues.

Once in a while, Grief takes a vacation. I imagine him, lying on a beach chair, pink umbrella in his drink, drifting off to the sound of endless waves. Come Monday morning, however, he’s back and ready for business.


  1. I don't know what to say except, yes. Grief is a difficult thing, although depending upon the loss, it might fade somewhat over time. At least I hope that's the case.

  2. Beautiful. Do you know of this one?

    For Grief, by John O'Donohue

    When you lose someone you love,
    Your life becomes strange,
    The ground beneath you becomes fragile,
    Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
    And some dead echo drags your voice down
    Where words have no confidence.

    Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
    And though this loss has wounded others too,
    No one knows what has been taken from you
    When the silence of absence deepens.

    Flickers of guilt kindle regret
    For all that was left unsaid or undone.
    There are days when you wake up happy;
    Again inside the fullness of life,
    Until the moment breaks
    And you are thrown back
    Onto the black tide of loss.

    Days when you have your heart back,
    You are able to function well
    Until in the middle of work or encounter,
    Suddenly with no warning,
    You are ambushed by grief.

    It becomes hard to trust yourself.
    All you depend on now is that
    Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
    More than you, it knows its way
    And will find the right time
    To pull and pull the rope of grief
    Until that coiled hill of tears
    Has reduced to its last drop.

    Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
    With the invisible form of your departed;
    And when the work of grief is done,
    The wound of loss will heal
    And you will have learned
    To wean your eyes
    From that gap in the air
    And be able to enter the hearth
    In your soul where your loved one
    Has awaited your return
    All the time


"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka