For those in my life who are struggling with grief

For those in my life who are struggling with grief
photo by osm

Dear Friend:

I am so sad that you are so sad.

I hate that hope is more ‘bag of dicks’ than ‘beautiful horizon’ these days.

I also hate that there is nothing I can do to chase your pain away. I can distract you for short periods of time, and I can believe you and take your side on the matter, but I can’t absolve you of the pain. I don’t believe we move through grief as much as it moves through us.

And it sucks that it sucks. And it sucks how much it sucks. And it really sucks that sucking sucks so much.

I keep thinking back to a day about fifteen years ago when things sucked for me: when I, too, had lost sight of hope.

I remember my mind being so stabby and electric  – my due north had been expatriated to the south and I much preferred slumber to consciousness because life was being a real motherfucker.

I headed to my Coping Tribe for some informal talk therapy on a nippy Wednesday afternoon, racing past the cool kids still playing the game of smokes. I had just tapped myself out of that game and was resentful, judgemental, and jealous of the tiny white chimneys bouncing on their lips. Fuck them and fuck everyone walking around like it was so easy to do or something.

When it was my turn to share I delivered a toothless ultimatum to a nonplussed crowd. In a nutshell: Give me hope or set me free, assholes. Also, sorry I just called you assholes. Things just feel impossible today and I just wish someone would, like, write me a letter and promise me that this shit will get better. Thanks for listening and, again, sorry about the whole asshole thing.

After our collective conversation, as people were filing out of the room, someone dropped a folded note onto my desk: a throwback to the junior high text. The written words on the mysterious note: (paraphrased) I promise this shit will get better.

It worked. I chose belief over despair, if only for that moment. It was enough.

So today, I’d like to try and pay it forward with my own written words.


Now these words may work and they may not work, depending on how deep you are in the well at the time you read them. No worries, though, for these words will stay put while you wind your way through, under, and around the grief, the sadness, and the paralysis at this shitty, shitty fork in the road.

My stay-put words go like this: I promise this shit will get better. (Total plagiarism of a paraphrase, true, but if it ain’t broke…)

Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, shit always gets better because that’s how the universe is designed. Cut your finger, the cells immediately huddle and execute a plan to heal the wound. Get a black eye for whatever reason and the skin, muscles, and bruises don’t rest until the eye socket looks straight and clean again.

You, while exceptional, are not the exception: this shit will get better.

Real talk: this shit may get worse before it gets better. This shit may not get better by Christmas. Down the line, this shit might come from nowhere and remind you of today’s shitty shit. But this shit’s gonna get better.

And I know that I’m not the only one telling you this. I know there are moments you can even sense the faint tickle of this truth in your metaphysical nerve endings, but more often than not it’s probably exasperating to hear people speak as if fairy tales are real when clearly they are fucking not, hello.

And to that point, I would like to acknowledge how real and awful your grief is. Life is a mother fucker, (and frankly so can be some of its players) so there’s no grief shaming here. Nope. These words are not offered as a detour around this moment but more as an optional rest stop on this most unwelcome globe trot through the grief desert.

This shit will get better is not a mirage. The oasis is real.

And there’s this: shit getting better is not contingent on anything you do or that you fail to do or even that you refuse to do. Nope. Healing is not earned with a passing grade.

A wise, young philosopher in my back seat recently pontificated that the distant past was once the far-away future. Ergo: the earth is gonna keep doing its spinny travel thing, and time is gonna keep doing that thing time does, and while those things happen in and around you and me and us and the whole tangled web of love you’ve spun far and wide, all you have to do is breathe your way through the day.

Sure, a bill on the table. (or not) Sure, an occasional trash bag chore. (or not) Sure, sure, sure.

The only non-negotiable is that you breathe deep and breathe often.

Also: protein. (Sure)

Also: water. (Or not)

Then breathe some more.  (Def)

And if the breathing gets a little labored, put your attention on the warm spot between your shoulder blades, and in your mind’s eye see it as the invisible hand that it is.

Because we got your back.

Love u.


That’s my piece, and that’s my peace. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my silly words. It truly means the world to me. Carry on…


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