My grief...

Grief is so damn human. We're born, shit happens, we die. Other people we love die in between. And so it goes.

Americans don't talk about grief much. If at all, really. Most people do not know what to say when someone else is in grief, much less what to do or say when they themselves are grieving.

Grief hurts. I think it must hurt more to lose someone than to die. At least emotionally. Pain being pain, well, I guess it depends on how you go, but afterwords, at least from my perspective, at least it's over.

The worst pain I can imagine as a mother is to lose my child. (I have lost two. They were wee things, no larger than my finger, I'm sure, but they were my babies.) To lose is to lose, whether one's child is a day old or twenty years old. The loss is still a loss.

(The shock is, I imagine, much greater, losing an older child. In that respect, stillbirth "trumps" miscarriage, and losing your adult child trumps it all. Unless you're 98 and your child is 80. Then, you're probably ready, yes? No. I'm sure that a parent is never ready, even should their child live to a 103.)

I am thinking about this because there is so much grief around me right now. A friend of mine lost her adult daughter last month. Another friend "celebrates" her first daughter's death/ birth days this week. And another friend her second daughter's death/birth after that. (And December was two other death/ birth days mourned by other friends.)

My waterbaby died in February (or possibly in January and then was miscarried in Feb) and that is coming up and I am grieving.

And another friend got the news last week that her brain tumor has returned and is 1/3 the size it was when it was removed last spring.

Grief surrounds us.

And here is the corollary: love surrounds us.

We grieve because we love.

Have you ever grieved for someone you did not love? No. Grief is the heartbreak of losing what is loved.

But love persists. Death does not take away love. Memory remains. (Jewish custom is to say, "May their memory be for a blessing" because the blessing of memory is all we have after someone is gone. It's not enough, but it is what it is.)

Eventually our grief is tempered. Life is lived. (And then we grieve all the more because it feels wrong to keep living. But we do. And our grief is tempered again.)

So, what do you say to someone who is grieving?

I say, "I am sorry. I love you. Let me sit with you awhile and hold the memory with you. Tell me."

I say, "I am sorry. I hope their memory will be a blessing, always."

I say, "Grief sucks. Let's just sit and cry and mourn and get drunk and tell raucous stories that leave us laughing hysterically til we end up weeping some more."

And then I say (to myself): "Keep living. Feel your grief, but don't stop loving the person you loved. They remain in your heart."

And when I am gone, my memory will remain in yours.