Dear Grief,

It’s been a while since I last wrote to you, that time I told you that you’re not a process.

And since Christ hasn’t returned yet, you’re still here, in all your multiple personalities.

You’re like a fingerprint, leaving a unique mark and lasting impression on each person you inhabit.  And like fingerprints, you can take ten different shapes at any moment of any given day.

Photo Credit: Glenn J. Mason

Even if seared or burned, you linger under the surface, reappearing with time, unwilling to be destroyed, erased, forgotten.

You have a green ink stain on one of your prints, the distasteful shade of jealousy, the one that looks at other, unblemished prints and envies them.  You know, those fingertips that reveal perfectly manicured nails on the other side and still complain about a chip in their polish.

Sometimes you like to be flashy, wearing your ‘everybody-look-at-me’ sparkly rings.  You want to be noticed, acknowledged, remembered.  Other days you want to be tucked away, unpolished nails clipped and thrust into gloves to hide the pale, dry skin, then folded into crossed arms that say, ‘leave me alone.’

Having a relationship with you is a lot like being a parent.  For some, awareness of you begins with two pink lines on a white stick, with several months to bear before you are officially born.  You’re there, but largely unseen; expected, waited for, anticipated with a complex fear of the unknown.  For others, you come suddenly, uninvited, like an abandoned baby left on a doorstep in the middle of the night.  We wake up to the responsibility of you, and take you in without a choice.   Either way, whether expected or not, you arrive, and we have no idea what to do with you.  Like parents of a newborn baby, we fumble around through sleepless nights like zombies living an out-of-body experience.  Just when we think we’ve figured out your routine, you change your patterns, throw a tantrum, learn a new trick.  You grow into new phases, develop and change with the pictures on the calendar.  Unlike the blessing of children, you hold no joy.  And like I said before, until we enter glory, you never go away.  We’re stuck with you, bound to you as a lifelong guardian well beyond the point when you reach maturity.

Yet in all these marks that you leave with your lasting, wavy impressions, you’re not stamped with permanent ink.  Your prints are not made with an unwashable Sharpie.  Yes, your stains will linger in this lifetime, even after countless loads through the washing machine, and seemingly endless desperate attempts to remove you from the fabric of our souls.  You will linger, until one glorious day, when the Ultimate Stain Remover will come and will present His bride “to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27b, ESV).  The perfect Lamb, the One without blemish or defect, is coming — and He will take the garments you’ve given to us, the ones that linger with the stench of your smoke, and He will throw them away and clothe us in pure white.

Your stains remain for now, Grief, but your days are numbered.  You will soon be scrubbed out, bleached into whiteness until you are invisible and will be remembered no more.

He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

~ Revelation 22:20

This post is a follow-up to my first Open Letter to Grief, which can be found here.




Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Number 1, by a landslide .. An Open Letter to Grief

2nd place: Defining Home, the opening post of the series I wrote on Defining Home in 31 Days

And Number 3 for 2013 was … Compared to Her – An Interview with Author Sophie DeWitt

With the exception of #8 and #11, the remainder of the 13 most-viewed posts for 2013 come from the Defining Home series:

4. My Personal Definition








5. Heading Home









6. In Which I Deviate from the Plan


Opening Day









7. When you wish you had what they have


Rocking horse









8. South Africa – A Photographic Tribute (in honor of Nelson Mandela)











9. Ten Moves in Ten Years













10. When you Want to Go Home (aka ‘That time I cried through sixth grade camp’)


Bunk Beds








11. The Story Behind the Wheelchair Ramp (in honor of my mom)


Wheelchair Alida saved











12. Why I Hate Airports











13. Moving Day











To each of you, I wish a very blessed 2014 … To God be the glory.





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.


Photo credit: Thomas Fouts of Fouts Fotos (


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.




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.




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.




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.




Click below to download my e-book, Letters to Grief, from Amazon Kindle.


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.