Quick link: Things No One Told Me about Grief

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This essay is at Brain Child. It is about the loss of a child and about grief and love and community. I’m thankful for my editor there, Randi Olin, who sadly understands the experience and who graciously helped me turn emotion into words for when there really are no words. I hope the words here are honoring, that they are honest, maybe encouraging to someone.

Before computers, when we wrote with pencils and paper, evidence of our emotion was right there on the page. In hastily scrawled letters or imprinted periods or dampened corners and ink that ran where it mingled with tears. The computer screen reveals none of that. It makes the words feel naked almost, unmoored from the tears through which they were written. I don’t mean to be all melodramatic but there must be space online, in our pinterested and instagrammed worlds that portray joyful perfection, for acknowledging brokenness, for honesty, for corporate sadness, for a modern-world way of honoring people we’ve loved.

Fumbling through that here.

No one ever told me grief was so physical. I feel it in my bones, they ache. I feel it in my muscles, they are sore, as though I’ve run a marathon. The few times I have tried to run, I struggle to see the ground through my tears and my legs feel weak, my pace slow but my body screaming that I’m trying as hard as I can. I’m dehydrated from crying, from forgetting to drink enough water. I’m hungry but can’t eat, nothing looks appetizing. I haven’t slept all the way through the night since the day my daughter’s friend fell.

What is it for anyway? Who cares if I’m in shape or strong or feel the wind in my face? The child of my friend is gone, my daughter’s friend is gone. My 5k pace is irrelevant, sleep a luxury repeatedly interrupted by damp cheeks and a runny nose. Grief forms in a lump in my throat and lodges there, moving in uninvited. It fades and comes back and it is hard to swallow food, to force sustenance past the sorrow.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “No one ever told me grief felt so like fear.” No one ever told me that, either. Fear of how to respond, fear of how things will change, fear of fragility, fear of how to respond to my daughter’s grief while facing my own.

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