An Open Letter to Grief

 

Dear Grief,

I shudder to refer to  you as ‘dear.’  Yet, you have been with me for so long, by virtue of the fact that you have become a part of me, I suppose that has entitled you to earn the accolade of affection, though my heart grants it unwillingly.

You are an enigmatic and elusive creature, a chameleon, changing color with habitat and season.

Some say you pass with time, like grains of sand sifting through my fingers, no longer resting in the safety of my palm.

Others say you are a process, as if by accomplishing twelve prescribed steps, I could graduate from your possession and be free of you.

But you are not a process.  You do not pass, at least not in this lifetime.

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Photo credit: Thomas Fouts of Fouts Fotos (http://foutsfotos.com/)

You are cyclical, like the moon.  You are ever-present, waxing and waning.  Some nights full, round and bright, exposing depths and darkness.  Weeks later, you pretend to sleep, a mere sliver, watching quietly through the slit of your eye.

Sometimes your brightness is astonishing and unexpected, as when one drives around a wall of trees, only to be caught unaware by the sudden, full-force of your impact.

On momentous occasions, your visibility is expected, planned for, as an eclipse.  The build-up of emotion is strong, and sometimes, to be honest, your performance disappoints.  You linger afterwards, like a hangover, making daily routine as strenuous and unpleasant as wading through knee-deep sludge.

You take on a myriad of variant shapes, like water.  Even in stages of evaporation, you don’t disappear entirely, but wait to be stored up in the clouds until a storm is ready to thunder and pelt you down in stinging drops of precipitation.

Sometimes you stand still, in a puddle at my feet, not threatening, but leaving me soggy and uncomfortable nonetheless.

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Like the ocean, you pull in strong currents, and your depths are unknown.  You come in waves, rising with lofty swells that crash down incessantly.  You roll onto the shore of life, leaving the sand of my heart soft and impressionable, only to wash away the footprints with your next uninvited wave.

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In winter, you form stoic icebergs that line the shore, masses of frozen mounds that keep well-intentioned visitors at bay, too fearful to set foot on your unpredictable foundation.

During some theatrical productions, you insist on taking center stage, pushing your way into the limelight, to be seen and heard by all.  On other show nights, you are content to lean against the rear wall, nodding in approval, but refusing to walk out the back door.

You can invoke both fits of rage and surrendered resignation.  You produce burning tears and melancholy, hollow stares.  Nostalgic thoughts touch fingertips with moments prior to your existence, resulting in dry, wistful smiles, mere shadows of a past reality.

You can be gripping, crippling, choking and suffocating, squeezing life out of lungs.  Then you relent, and make your bed in the well of empty hearts.  You pull up the covers, and you lie down for a while.

You dwell with me … in me … but you are not my master.

You roam on a leash.  You are tethered by the One who owns you.

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As your Master fixed limits for the sea which He created and “set its doors and bars in place,” so He limits you (Job 38:10).  As He says to the waters He formed, so it is with you: “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt” (Job 38:11).

You will not win, nor overcome.  You have already been subdued and defeated, for “death has been swallowed up by victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54).

A day is coming when you will be deemed redundant and your crown obsolete, for there shall be “no more death, or mourning, or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).

On that day, O Grief, you will no longer be called ‘dear’ …

.. nor even a distant memory.

 

***

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Post Script: Another Letter to Grief can be found here. Did you miss the Letters to Grief link-up? Read what 30 writers have to say to grief by clicking here.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

79 thoughts on “an open letter to grief

  1. What a thought provoking piece of writing. I have never thought about grief, but understood the feelings conveyed. Thank-you.

  2. I’ve shared this on my blog and on my fb timeline. It is the best I’ve heard described in how my relationship to Grief has changed over the seasons since the death of my daughter almost 2 years ago now.

    • Thank you. My hope has been that God would use these words and emotions to minister to others and give hope in the midst of darkness. Blessings to you as you walk this journey.

  3. I’ve shared this on my blog and on my fb timeline. It is the best I’ve heard described in how my relationship to Grief has changed over the seasons since the death of my daughter almost 2 years ago now.

    • Thank you. My hope has been that God would use these words and emotions to minister to others and give hope in the midst of darkness. Blessings to you as you walk this journey.

  4. Thank you. My daughter died 178 days ago and I am drowning in grief. Yesterday I was able to breathe without feeling that my heart would burst from the pain…today I am drowning.

  5. Thank you. My daughter died 178 days ago and I am drowning in grief. Yesterday I was able to breathe without feeling that my heart would burst from the pain…today I am drowning.

  6. Wow Kate! Amazing words. You are being a blessing to many because of something so terrible – grief. Strength, hope and joy is my prayer for you. Margi

  7. Wow Kate! Amazing words. You are being a blessing to many because of something so terrible – grief. Strength, hope and joy is my prayer for you. Margi

  8. Kate…..Once again, an amazing young gal you are! You are blessed by God with your writings of insight, love, emotions, human nature, and caring of folks. Your experiences you share, trusting the guidance of our Savior to perhaps heal, encourage or lead those who read you to seeing life through Christ. Love You….Hi to the kiddos and Kasigo

  9. thank you for so beautifully putting into words how so many of us feel! i lost my only sibling to suicide 2-1/2 years ago and the grief is still there and is still quite strong. it comes in waves but is always there. thank you for sharing this post– it’s absolutely beautiful. 🙂

    • Oh, what a tragedy. I am so very sorry for your loss. May the Lord’s presence sustain you, and be even more evident than the ever present grief. May you rest in the shadow of His wings, and may He lift you up.

  10. thank you for so beautifully putting into words how so many of us feel! i lost my only sibling to suicide 2-1/2 years ago and the grief is still there and is still quite strong. it comes in waves but is always there. thank you for sharing this post– it’s absolutely beautiful. 🙂

    • Oh, what a tragedy. I am so very sorry for your loss. May the Lord’s presence sustain you, and be even more evident than the ever present grief. May you rest in the shadow of His wings, and may He lift you up.

  11. Ooooh, I get this. And I LOVED this piece: “As your Master fixed limits for the sea which He created and “set its doors and bars in place,” so He limits you (Job 38:10). As He says to the waters He formed, so it is with you: “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt” (Job 38:11).

    YES – How encouraging!!! He allows pain but He only allows it to come so far. He is the perfect know-er of our hearts and draws us into Himself in the midst of all of it.

    Thanks for sharing this piece! (Hopped over from our FB group today. 🙂 )

  12. Ooooh, I get this. And I LOVED this piece: “As your Master fixed limits for the sea which He created and “set its doors and bars in place,” so He limits you (Job 38:10). As He says to the waters He formed, so it is with you: “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt” (Job 38:11).

    YES – How encouraging!!! He allows pain but He only allows it to come so far. He is the perfect know-er of our hearts and draws us into Himself in the midst of all of it.

    Thanks for sharing this piece! (Hopped over from our FB group today. 🙂 )

  13. “…you stand still, in a puddle at my feet, not threatening, but leaving me soggy and uncomfortable…” beautifully written kate…it feels like you have touched on every way a person experiences grief in their life. a gift that you shared this. –kris

  14. “…you stand still, in a puddle at my feet, not threatening, but leaving me soggy and uncomfortable…” beautifully written kate…it feels like you have touched on every way a person experiences grief in their life. a gift that you shared this. –kris

  15. I just found this blog and I hit SUBSCRIBE right away.. beautiful post of grief; something we struggle with in many forms. I also write to heal on my blog .. I will certainly take a look around your blog .. Thank you

  16. I just found this blog and I hit SUBSCRIBE right away.. beautiful post of grief; something we struggle with in many forms. I also write to heal on my blog .. I will certainly take a look around your blog .. Thank you

  17. I came over from Emily’s today. My cousin and very close friend lost her 17 year old in an auto accident three months ago. She is in throws of grief. Thank you for finding all these words to try to wrap our hands around this horrid, dear (as you say) creature. And then for setting his (or her) place in the kingdom perspective — nowhere. Glory!

  18. I came over from Emily’s today. My cousin and very close friend lost her 17 year old in an auto accident three months ago. She is in throws of grief. Thank you for finding all these words to try to wrap our hands around this horrid, dear (as you say) creature. And then for setting his (or her) place in the kingdom perspective — nowhere. Glory!

  19. Yes. This. Is. It. Your words are so profound and true…they leave me breathless and a little less broken. May our Father continue to hold you and use you, friend. Thank you so much.

  20. Yes. This. Is. It. Your words are so profound and true…they leave me breathless and a little less broken. May our Father continue to hold you and use you, friend. Thank you so much.

  21. This is stunning. The way you’ve captured grief as a being is remarkable. These words: “Others say you are a process, as if by accomplishing twelve prescribed steps, I could graduate from your possession and be free of you.” So.Good. But what I love most is your conclusion – grief will not win. Thank you for this piece.

  22. This is stunning. The way you’ve captured grief as a being is remarkable. These words: “Others say you are a process, as if by accomplishing twelve prescribed steps, I could graduate from your possession and be free of you.” So.Good. But what I love most is your conclusion – grief will not win. Thank you for this piece.

  23. What a deftly-written article, Kate. I have been acquainted with grief with the loss of our little Brooklyn but you’re right, it doesn’t own us or master us unless we allow it to. But thanks to the Lord Jesus, He has allowed me to overcome it and makes me feel loved more than ever. Thank you for writing this.

  24. What a deftly-written article, Kate. I have been acquainted with grief with the loss of our little Brooklyn but you’re right, it doesn’t own us or master us unless we allow it to. But thanks to the Lord Jesus, He has allowed me to overcome it and makes me feel loved more than ever. Thank you for writing this.

  25. This is such a beautiful piece of writing, Kate, so aptly describing grief. So glad you linked to Velvet Ashes today!

  26. This is such a beautiful piece of writing, Kate, so aptly describing grief. So glad you linked to Velvet Ashes today!

  27. So beautifully written, as is the second letter you share at the end. Thank you putting words to what is sometimes so hard to talk about, for doing it so eloquently, and for sharing it.

  28. So beautifully written, as is the second letter you share at the end. Thank you putting words to what is sometimes so hard to talk about, for doing it so eloquently, and for sharing it.

  29. Oh, Katie~ THIS is so beautiful and true. Only someone who has lived with grief can know it so intimately. And only someone very gifted can put words to it so perfectly. Thanks for sharing this with me!

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