Category Archives: Grief

Making Room for Grief

Draw your chair up close to the edge of the precipice and I’ll tell you a story. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

I had a long night of pandemic anxiety dreams, ones with infected people coughing on me, texting my mom and getting no response, a haunted grocery store, not being able to breathe. Eric was in a funk yesterday, the stress and frustration of our current situation and his work weighing heavy on him, and it had rubbed off on me a bit. Panic and grief and irritation are close to the surface these days. I meditated and wrote first thing when I got up, and didn’t want my practice to end because then I’d have to face the rest of the day. I did finish, and then I checked my phone.

There was an email from our grocery store, letting us know they were enacting new policies, specifically limiting the number of people they’ll allow in the store at a time. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Democratic race for president, so our best hope now is Joe Biden (yuck). Singer songwriter John Prine and Charlotte Figi, the namesake for Charlotte’s Web’s CBD products, have both died from COVID-19.

Last night at 8 pm, many of my neighbors went outside and howled at the moon. It’s actually something they’ve been doing every night at that time. I opened the back door to listen. The back of our house faces west, so I was also looking out at the sunset, pink and orange over the foothills. The sound of howling and the color of the sky, all of us there together but also alone, made me start to cry. It reminded me of that moment at the end of the movie Troop Zero when the girls are standing on top of a picnic table under the stars, all yelling “I’m here!” at the sky, hoping someone will hear them, or the first lines of Andrea Gibson’s devastating poem “Orlando.”

When the first responders entered the Pulse Nightclub after the massacre in Orlando, they walked through the horrific scene of bodies and called out, “If you are alive, raise your hands.” ~Orlando by Andrea Gibson.


This morning, (this mourning), I’ve been listening to Ani DiFranco’s cover of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” on repeat. When it feels like my heart has no more space for anymore grief, it grows and I manage somehow to hold it. My heart at this point is as big as the world, broken in places, and my body feels like it can barely contain it, like it might burst right out of my chest.

Just give me one thing that I can hold on to. To believe in this living is just a hard way to go. ~”Angel from Montgomery,” by John Prine

I’m still here. So are you, kind and gentle reader. That’s what I’m holding on to today.

#reverb13: Day Four

reverb13Today, one of my prompts for Reverb13 is up. No big surprise, it’s about grief and loss. I wrote,

This past year, we have all experienced so much loss and felt so much grief — in relationships, through sickness and death, from mental illness or abuse, because of finances, even due to the need for healthy change.

It is good to honor those shifts, to fully feel them, so that we can let go of what needs surrendered, and remember what is worthy of our love and gratitude.

What have you lost, what are you grieving?

olderdexterI can’t talk about what I’ve lost in the past year, what I’m grieving without mentioning Dexter. His cancer and eventual death was the most significant event of 2013. I emailed Kat yesterday, (she’s hosting the Reverb13 I wrote this and one other prompt for) and told her, “Almost every day, I’ve been writing about Dexter, as I reflect back on this year, and it’s helping me to honor that experience but also to let go in a way I still haven’t. I’m so grateful for this practice.”

Another big loss this year is my husband’s parents and his aunt moved. For the past five years, they were here, close to us. We’d lived here for almost seven years on our own before that and were fine, but then they came and we had someone else to call when we needed help, a built in dog sitter (one who washed dishes and did laundry when she came over), people to gather with for holidays or just a regular meal any time. We’d come home from work to a container of homemade cinnamon rolls or oatmeal cookies, and there was always someone to help Eric take a load of stuff to the dump or borrow a ladder from. We got used to it, so now being here by ourselves again feels a little lonely.

Another loss is not going to Susan Piver’s Fearlessly Creative: A Meditation and Writing Retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center (SMC) at the end of the month. The timing is just off for me this session, and even though I can do a writing and meditation retreat any time for myself at home, and I can drive up to SMC whenever I want, I am really going to miss seeing Susan again. The other grief related to her is the Open Heart Project Practitioner level didn’t end up working out. We aren’t completely disbanded or adrift, things are simply shifting, but we had just completed our 2nd virtual retreat when we got the news and it was sad.

There’s grief about other family stuff, things I don’t write about here, other people’s struggles and secrets that aren’t mine to share, but can’t be ignored, are hard to witness, generate so much suffering. I practice remembering, as Anaïs Nin suggested, “You cannot save people. You can only love them.”

When it was happening, and immediately after, there was a lot of grief around the session I had with a new doctor where she told me I was obese and tried to put me on a diet, told me to do more cardio — all this after I explained I was a dis-ordered eater and was hoping to heal that behavior.


this is what obese looks like — when I look at her, all I can see is how hard she tries, all the ways she’s denied herself, how worthy she is of nothing but love (photo by Andrea Scher)

Which leads directly into my answer to the next prompt: 20/20: Hindsight is the one thing we never benefit from in the present.  Is there one moment you wish you could do over? I’m not usually one to wish for do-overs because it seems to imply regret, wanting things to be different, and if that were the case, I wouldn’t be where I am now. For example, from the visit to that doctor came the Self-Compassion Saturday project and the real healing that is happening now, something I had to do for myself. Yes, what she did was awful, but it was the catalyst for something good. Or, I could wish that I’d let Dexter go hiking that day, the one where he stayed home with me and hurt his knee chasing a squirrel in the back yard — and yet, without a hurt knee, he wouldn’t have required physical therapy, and we never would have met Dr. Lindsey Fry and the support staff at Fort Collins Veterinary Emergency Hospital. They gave both Dexter and I such good care in those final months. So, rather than wish for a do-over, I choose to accept what’s happened, to be grateful for what I can, learn what I can.

The Besottment Reverb 2013 prompt is “Did you discover a favourite song or musical artist in 2013?” I love music as much as I love books and dogs, so I can’t give just one. These are my three favorite new to me artists I discovered, my three favorite of their songs.

One eskimO, Amazing

Mary Lambert, She Keeps Me Warm

Furns, Power