Category: grief


This morning at church, as we entered the “praying” part of the service, the young priest said, “And we offer prayers for those who are in ‘a Season of Sadness.’” He gave a name to something I’m experiencing; a Season of Sadness.

A season to journey through. To accept as a stretch of time, but not to define the rest of my life. Like a spell of bad weather, something to endure, to get through, in anticipation of other seasons.

My husband would have turned 64 on Friday. Today we would have celebrated with our children and friends, as we have done for years. Homemade cake, BBQ in our back yard, obligatory photo-op … but this year is birthday passed in quiet remembrance of what we’ve lost. A few texts and phone calls, but that was it.

Husband, father, uncle, friend. Quick to laugh and quick to fall asleep. Perfectionist to a fault, yet generous and eternally optimistic. His presence is missed, and his absence cannot be avoided.

I could never imagine my life without him, without his warmth, without his ideas, and without HIS strong opinion. My arms are empty, and my bed is cold. We struggle as we adjust, yet he is at rest – peace. The peace he could not find here; demons, history, regrets, failures, all plagued him. Yet in our eyes he was wise, kind, and generous to a fault. Ever present and always ready to do more. My mind drifts to the things we never said, and the missed opportunities. It all makes me very sad.

I’ve heard it said, “It is easier to escape a presence than an absence.” I have found this painfully true. For there is always the grief, thick and inescapable. A cloud that lingers, a mist, or perhaps an aroma. A sudden familiar smell or a favorite color … grief is a thing that defies words, for words are feeble, thin, constricting.

Yet there is a strange comfort in the presence of constant grief – it is a thing you know. It must be invited it into your life, for it will accept no rejection. There have been days where grief has been my only companion. Something “other,” yet my very “self” at the same time … how this is, I cannot explain, I only know this has been my experience. Yet, in deep grief I have found hope, a thing that is also something “other,” yet NOT myself. Hope is a thing that is as equally explainable as grief itself.

Each April, offers writers the opportunity to write an “A to Z” about a topic. You take a letter a day, and blog about it. This year I’m thinking about writing an “A to Z” about grief. A close friend asked, “Really, is there enough to write about grief?”

Oh, yes, my dear friend, there is more than enough to say about this dance between grief and hope. I don’t mean to depress with my writing, I merely want to express my experience, so that another might read and say “Yes, this is my experience too.” And through this connection find peace in knowing that you aren’t alone.

What about you? What is your experience with grief? Have you found hope in the depths of your grief? Send me an email, tell me about it. Together we can create a body of work that will help someone through their own “Season of Sadness.” Thank you for support and I look forward to hearing from you.

~ lisa


    Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. Ps 42:11

The psalmist is speaking to the “living part” of himself, his soul. The living part of his being is cast down and heavy – disquieted. I understand this.

If this “disquiet” is a part of the Psalmist’s experience, a byproduct of fears and oppression, why does the modern person become concerned when feeling this way? As though we’ve done something wrong; that we haven’t had sufficient “good thoughts” or maintained a positive attitude.  Yet heaviness and disquietness are the soul’s natural reaction to life’s difficult situations.

This passage appears to be an internal discussion between the writer and himself. I benefit from the progression of thought expressed.

“Why are thou cast down, O my soul?” He is surprised at his own heaviness.

Then he encourages himself, “Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise Him.”

As if to say, “Why are you sad, take heart, something will come of this difficulty, something worthy of praise. God has proven himself in the past, He will not absent himself this time, take courage – be still.”

This psalm speaks to me in two ways; first, that to be heavy or disquieted is a natural state of my soul in response to fears and worries. Second, that when life causes me worry and distress, I should encourage myself by remembering that God hasn’t failed me and that when the turmoil has passed I will have something to be thankful for.

Counterintuitive? Yes. But that is the point.

Roadside Memorial

The thin marine layer acts as filter, holding back the colors of morning. All that is left is a vacant landscape all in grey tones. A normally vibrant view is reduced to a silhouette of hills and buildings. We approach the place. A place most of us travel again and again – part of our rut. The traffic is slow and purposeful. We want to see the place. We take our time. This morning, the first day of business traffic through this thin stretch of Pacific Coast Highway.

A sudden surprise; everything is swept and clear. Expectations were to see the spot as it was; glass and shards of metal strewn around, a flicker indicating the presence of a traffic flare. But as we pass we can see no evidence of the damage done just two days earlier. If one hadn’t heard – one would never know.

Then it is seen, the humble roadside memorial. Against the city codes, it stands “permitted” today; an exception to the rules marks the spot where 3 souls were separated from their bodies.

“Too soon” some would lament … yet not, He always knew what the news would be that day. As though already published He had awareness of the headlines and the report we would hear;

    a woman in her 20s, a man in his 40s and his mother in her 60s.

Too soon? Perhaps by our standards, but the number of their days was already known to Him at their birth.

Three spots of flower-filled color, three clear, fresh candles. They pierce the grey tones of the morning and remind us to live as though this day were our last.

Hope-filled Grief

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the with trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thes 4:16-18

Paraphrased: “You will see your loved one again and you will be reunited forever, Christ himself will come again. And HE will make this so.”

I was comforted, again, by this truth today at the Requiem Mass for a great lady, Catherine Wilcox. The priest, encouraged us, “Mourn and grieve, yes, but not as the world grieves.”

Christian grief is filled with hope, the aspect of mourning that eludes the world. Ours is not a wishful hope, but a certain anticipation of the fulfillment of a promise. “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

The Feast of All Souls

Yesterday was All Saints Day – a day set aside to remember saints who walked before us, to learn from their examples, and to be encouraged by the strength given them.

Today we gather, mourning their death, contemplating our own. The church alive with symbols of life and resurrection – stark in contrast to the black vestments of the priest.

Against warm wood paneling, a frame then a picture emerges. Shimmering candles – both flame and brass, warm sunlight pouring in through smoky windows, dancing off the polished furnishing and pure white fabric on the altar.

Flowers, still adorning, vibrant washes of deep blues, oranges, reds and violets amid the back drop of expected green clippings of life. Their stems, strong, soaking up water – providing life and substance to a fragile structure of leaves and petals.

The priest enters – shrouded in black vestments; the fabric textureless, stiff. Underneath the common white dress-like priestly garment – girded up with thin strips of black, designed to hold the vestment in place yet constraining him as tendrils of death. Although unseen in our own lives they linger around us each.

The paradox is heavy. I sit in this tension of life and death. The past behind me, fixed – no longer flowing – the future, not guaranteed. The only moment I have is before me, a saint in the making, living in the thin space where eternity touches my world.

the Weight of Devastation

I couldn’t believe what I was saying, to actually give voice to the awful things happening. The words drifted from my lips as if someone else was talking. They floated around me then mingled with the dry summer air. As I spoke I felt the vibrancy of life leave me –

I became heavy. My body slumped and I was unable to move. laying down on the ground I could feel the dry summer grass prickly underneath me. My body yearned to dry up and fade into the dirt – to simply disappear. The knots of anxiety – too much for my heart to hold had now dissipated into numbness – then deep heaviness.

This heaviness overtook me, as if my muscles refused to hold me upright. The ground beneath me, my only comfort. Sorrow pushing heavy down on me, no desire left in me to push back. I lay still on the flat hard surface of the Earth.

My body yearning for what it knows, the cold, dark clay of its origin.

“From Dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return.”

Yet in that heaviness a small spark of something in me whispered,

“Yes, but in glory you will rise from that dust to eternal life. Get up. This is not the end. Rejoice in your sorrow, rejoice. God is near to care for you and your girl.”

The promise of love, of salvation and resurrection call me and lingered.

Powerless and empty, another strength enlivened me, and I got up.


The hollow feeling of seeing her move from me into the world.
A world where I am not really welcome. Nor do I need to be.
A world where my presence screams of her need for help —
My feet stay, but my heart tears apart, as half goes with her.

The same breeze that flips up her hair, enlivening her with freedom,
encircles me
stopping time
emphasizing my isolation

Yet, God is good. And at this moment her independence reminds me of this fact. And so, I am thankful.