I’ve been thinking about grief lately. After two deaths in our family this year, people have asked me about my loved ones: “How are they doing?” “Are they feeling better?” And of course that makes sense. You hope that people heal, and you want to do anything you can to help speed along the process for those you care about.
But I read something really illuminating.
My brother-in-law Paul, who died this spring, had sent us the memoir Lament for a Son last year. In the book, a professor writes about the loss of his 25-year-old son, who died in a mountain climbing accident. Paul said it was the truest description of grief he had ever read.
This line, I loved:
Rather often I am asked whether the grief remains as intense as when I wrote. The answer is, No. The wound is no longer raw. But it has not disappeared. That is as it should be. If he was worth loving, he is worth grieving over.
Grief is existential testimony to the worth of the one loved. That worth abides. So I own my grief. I do not try to put it behind me, to get over it, to forget it… Every lament is a love-song.
The paragraph made me realize: You’re allowed to be sad. For as long as you want. The person is worth grieving. It was surprisingly reassuring.
Also, from modern-day sage Anne Lamott:
Death; wow. So f-ing hard to bear, when the few people you cannot live without die. You will never get over these losses, and are not supposed to. We Christians like to think death is a major change of address, but in any case, the person will live fully again in your heart, at some point, and make you smile at the MOST inappropriate times. But their absence will also be a lifelong nightmare of homesickness for you. All truth is a paradox. Grief, friends, time and tears will heal you. Tears will bathe and baptize and hydrate you and the ground on which you walk.
Also, my sister sent me this video, which is so heartbreakingly beautiful and worth watching (the part with the hands at 2:11!)…
Lots of love. xoxo
P.S. How to help a grieving friend, and the beautiful, beautiful article, Getting Grief Right.
(Illustration by Vanessa Jimin. Video is Moving On from Ainslie Henderson, via This is Colossal.)