June 8, 2009

Sharing Sorrow

On Sunday, Patrick sent an email saying that he has lost his brother James in a tragic accident. Joe recently lost a friend to suicide. Steven is caring for his father who is fading into his final days in a hospital. Rox has just learned that her mother is suffering from end stage melanoma.

My heart aches for my online friends, and I would take their pain if I could. As we age we accumulate terrible anniversaries and share the knowledge of what they mean.

A couple of years ago, I came across a passage about grief so wise that I saved it. I remembered it when I read of Patrick’s loss, and I shared it with him. Let me convey those words to all of you too:

"…when grief hits, mourn deeply and thoroughly, in your own way, as long as it takes. But allow and celebrate the glimpses of joy that come with it. If the loss was great, expect the winds of memory to bring it back. So mourn again. Celebrate once more. With time, it will become easier but it will never truly end."

Moments like this bind us in our common grief. Too often we understand the deep pain. But so often we don’t know what to say. Many are so afraid of saying the wrong thing that they say nothing at all. Please don’t let that fear stop you from extending your sorrow for someone’s grief. Poorly spoken words are better than no words, for any attempt at connection will be welcomed.

Shared happiness is multiplied; shared sorrow is divided. Let’s help each other shoulder the burden in the dark times.

Update: I have learned the name of the man who wrote that beautiful passage on grief. I knew him online only as "Dick," but Richard Rumage is the rightful owner of those words. A couple of months after I received permission to post this here, Dick died a natural death at 79. His words live on.


THIS IS ME....ONLINE said...

You really ought to write a book sharing your wisdom. Thanks for caring so much.

Bear Me Out said...

In the midst of some mourning myself, I find these words helpful. You are, as usual, spot on.

Thank you.

Greg said...


Java said...

The sorrow is great. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

Ur-spo said...

Here here!
sharing grief and sorrow is probably the most important thing we can do for each other.

Rox said...

When I lost my MIL last year, I got through it with the love of my Blog friends. I know that once again, I will talk it all out and I'll find support from all who read my words. Knowing in advance the kind of support I have? Makes me cry because I feel relief.

You're a good egg, Birdie!

bigislandjeepguy said...

i used that exact quote at my mother's funeral eulogy: "shared happiness..."

it is *so* true what they say about grief: with time it gets easier, but it never ends. while i know people mean well, to say, "you'll get over it"...i think those people have never experienced such a loss. you never get over it, you just learn to deal with it and not let it overwhelm your life. period.

tornwordo said...

So nice. Yesterday at the market I ran into a neighbor who inquired about Sara. It totally caught me off guard and I started crying as I explained her passing. Felt kind of dumb there in the market, but felt good like I had honored her again afterward.