Hospice Of Lenawee » Support Blog

Sharing Grief

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.  —Henri Nouwen (1932-1996), Belgian priest, from Out of Solitude(1974)

Scars of Grief

I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not.

I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintance, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents…

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. But I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I loves dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it.

Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything… and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, the come further apart. You can see them for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of wreckage, but you’ll come out. Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And others waves will come. And you’ll survive them too.

If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.

Authorship – Unknown

Found on Facebook and submitted by one our hospice nurses – Tina Eberly.

Be Gentle in Your Grief

Opening Sentence from Celtic Daily Prayer

Do not hurry as you walk with grief; it does not help the journey.
Walk slowly, pausing often: do not hurry as you walk with grief.
Be not disturbed by memories that come unbidden.
Swiftly forgive; walk slowly, and let Christ speak for you unspoken words.
Unfinished conversation will be resolved in Him. Be not disturbed.
Be gentle with the one who walks with grief.
If it is you, be gentle with yourself.
Swiftly forgive; walk slowly, pausing often.
Take time; be gentle as you walk with grief.

Cloak of Laughter

I wear a Cloak of Laughter
       Lest anyone should see
My Dress of Sorrow underneath
        and stop to pity me
I wear a Cloak of Laughter
      Lest anyone should guess
That what is hid beneath it
       is less than happiness
But ah, what does it matter
       to you who are so wise
My Cloak falls tattered at my feet
       before your tender eyes
For Cloaks to cover sorrow
       are meant for stranger folk
One cannot hide away from friends
       beneath a laughing Cloak
Oh futile Cloak of Laughter
       how frail you are and thin
Love looks through you so easily
       and sees the grief within

Remembering Mother

“Your Mother is always with you. She’s the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street. She’s the smell of certain foods you remember, flowers you pick, the fragrance of life itself. She’s the cool hand on your brow when you’re not feeling well. She’s your breath in the air on a cold winter’s day. She is the sound of rain that lulls you to sleep, the colors of a rainbow; she is Christmas morning. Your Mother lives inside your laughter. She’s the place you came from, your first home, and she’s the map you follow with every step you take. She’s your first love, your first friend, even your first enemy, but nothing on earth can separate you… not time… not space… not even death.”


FOR MEN: 12 Ways to Know You’re Ready to Date

There is the old and somewhat accurate saying that after loss of a spouse, women process and men replace. Of course, regardless of being a widower or widow, attempting to replace often has less than desirable results.

Pathfinder Magazine has a wonderful article with wise insights for men (and women) about knowing when one might be ready to date.

Click here for the link (you’ll need to scroll down to get to the article)