Quantifying Grief? Don’t.

What do we do with our suffering?

Last week Diana opened the door to a series-within-the-series, a set of questions that touch on the Big Topic of suffering. This week’s question jumps in a little deeper:

It reminded me of something really important I learned from my mentor/spiritual director friend, Shirley.

Shirly and Carol at the Gardens, a Sacred Place.
April 28, 2006 – You introduced me to the Gardens.
Our friendship began

It was about grief – and this week, I lift a sentence and expand on it from a post written to her in celebration of her birthday a few years ago. 

When my brother died,
I knew I had to see you,
because I knew you knew,
the way no one else would know
because you had lost your brother

Afew months later
I told you I felt guilty
as I compared
my loss of a brother
to my sister-in-law’s loss of a husband.
That was surely worse,
wasn’t it?

And you reminded me not to quantify grief.
Everyone’s grief is their own, you said
and cannot be compared
to another’s grief.
Losing a brother is different
from a wife losing a husband
from a daughter losing a dad
from a son losing a dad
from a father losing a son
from a mother losing a son.
You said even though
you had lost a brother
you did not lose my brother.

This was a relief.
I was now free to
process my own grief.
For grief minimized
is pain unaddressed.
And the pain is carried
for years
buried beneath
the living of life
only to re-surface.
And surface it will
disguised as it comes out
sideways with people you love,
who wonder what is going on.

And if you are wise, you will begin
to process long-buried grief
as you move toward wholenss.
You’ll likely need
help to untangle
the threads.

Everyone needs a little bit of help sometimes.


4 Replies to “Quantifying Grief? Don’t.”

    1. Karen, Thank you so much for visiting here. I took a trip over to your blog and left a couple comments…inspired to write my grandson a letter as he enters middle school…on top of that, they are moving this summer, so it’s really a big deal. thanks.

  1. I’m so glad you have such a wise friend, Carol. Sometimes we need those friend-voices in our lives to remind us of truths we’ve ignored or forgotten. Thanks so much for linking up again this week.

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