May be an image of 1 person, tree and outdoors
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Mt. 5:4

I’m learning this about grief – you don’t get over it.  You absorb it into yourself.  Grief becomes a fact of your life, an integral part of your story.  Instead of moving past it, you learn to co-exist with it as a new state of normalcy.  To do that, it is necessary to leave the old normal behind, where the lost person (or creature) was part of daily conversations or reciprocated acts and expressions of love.  But they will never again be part of the story yet to come.  The piece of them lodged in your heart will rest there, perpetually alive, while reminders of their physical absence randomly punch you in the gut at unexpected moments.

I’m learning this about grief – love continues to flourish even when its object is removed.  Love after loss can be equal parts hard and soft, painful and comforting, but neither on demand.  It chooses its own modes and times for rendering emotion-stirring memories.  These can either sting or soothe, depending on triggers, state of mind, or even times of day or seasons of the year.  Love’s impact continues to shape your sense of self.  Only its expression changes as the lost one’s place transitions from present to past.

I’m learning this about grief – sharing it is easier than bearing it alone.  Linking arms with others who are grappling with the same loss makes me feel stronger, less imbalanced, more protected.  With them I can expose my inmost thoughts, even the disquieting whispers of shame when convictions stumble.  My fellow pilgrims forgive my weaknesses because they are discovering the same ones in themselves.

I’m learning this about grief – it is unique to each person.  Even when shared, the process – not of recovery, but of acclimatization – is different for every bereaved heart, for the quality of love is finely tuned to individual relationships.  While all feel the loss deeply, a father’s death will be processed differently by the oldest child, the middle child, the youngest child, by sons and by daughters, because the father related to each of them in a way that was distinctly, personally, theirs alone.  Corporate memories are filtered through individual experiences.  So, too, love.  So, too, grief.

My father died on June 11.  This is the first time I’ve been able to write it.  This is the first time I’ve been able to voice some of the thoughts swirling through my brain.  Grief is not new to me, but the loss of a parent is.  I tried to prepare myself when the shadow of death began its stealthy invasion, months before.  But there is no way to make ready for that moment of good-bye.  The final breath.  The last heartbeat.  The profound silence when life … leaves. 

So I have joined those who walk with grief as an intimate companion.  He is revealing himself to me one tear at a time.  He is leading me by baby steps into my life’s new normal that does not include access to Daddy’s presence.  He is helping me clarify my understandings of faith, hope, love and joy.  This is my current chapter, and I am learning.


  1. Patti Horton Fricke

    Vivian, you put into words feelings that I have had, and continue to have about the passing of loved ones, my dad especially.
    Also, although I didn’t know your dad well, I remember him as kind, gentle and compassionate. And if I remember, pretty funny. I think you get those traits from him.
    I have found that it does get a little easier as the years go by, the milestone days are less sharply hurtful. That first year was the hardest, all the “firsts” to live through. Now, well, the new normal you mentioned is usually in place.
    My hope for you is not that you forget, or get over it, but that you remember him with love and keep living.

    Love you, girl 💙

  2. Janice

    Having walked this path for the past 18 years, I understand every word you wrote. There are so many triggers that happen unexpectedly.
    Know that my love and prayers are with you and your family 💕🙏🏻

  3. Sandy Low

    Thank you for those very helpful thoughts. The ‘new normal’ is not easy at times snd I relate so well to what you are saying.
    What a special, precious dad you were blessed to share so many years, experiences and love with. That sometimes makes it all the harder!
    Sending a very special hug 🤗

  4. Allan Moss

    Vivian, it is good to see you express these thoughts and feelings. First, we are human beings. We react in human ways to great tragedy first, then comes the filters we have learned in life. Some people choose to ignore the filters, some don’t. The ones that ignore those filters, as in faith, can fall into a deep hole and struggle to recover; or, maybe never. You made the right choice. Yeah, the pain won’t go away, even being overwhelming sometimes, but you fight through the grief. My brother has been gone for five years now. I played golf today on a course he and I played many times. I was by myself and I literally cried out loud two or three times because there were so many memories there. But, you know what, I’m OK now, and you will be too. You are right, grief never goes away. It just becomes a part of you, but that’s OK. That is what you have to understand. It’s OK and it’s normal.

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