On Grief

Wellness Editor, Brooke Klauer, talks about her personal connection to Orlando and the unique and complex experience of processing grief.
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In light of recent current events affecting our nation, Wellness Editor Brooke Klauer is tackling the difficult subject of grief and its many faceted forms. So for all of you with heavy hearts, whatever the cause, know we are thinking of you.

I lost a dear friend to cancer recently; a bright and beautiful soul who touched the world in a myriad of ways and whose presence will be deeply missed. In short, humanity needs people like him as its champion. Which is why the refrain always seems to be: why? Why him? Why anyone who is good and right and true?

My girlfriend lost her cousin to a brain tumor a few months ago, and it still sits heavy on hearts. More recently it was the devastating news that another girlfriend’s husband is now fighting stage four lung cancer with the very real chance he may leave behind his wife and two young children.

And then this past weekend: the single deadliest massacre in U.S. history. And it happened in my hometown, Orlando, where I grew up, navigated my formative years and loved every second the city gave me. It’s where my parents live and many friends still reside.

It may go without saying, but grief has stricken. And what can we do to process grief? How can we make right what seems so wrong?

Maybe we can’t. Maybe we shouldn’t. Or maybe we should. But I think it may not matter, in the ways it matters for everyone—it need only matter for you. There is no right or wrong or black or white when it comes to grief. Grief is so very grey: it’s messy, muddled and without parameters.

And perhaps that’s part of what makes it so very difficult to process, to absorb, to sit with. Each of us will handle and carry grief in different ways. General coping mechanisms aside, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to fix the hurt. Grief is a solitary endeavor. But it’s also a reminder of how much we love, how much we feel and how much we cherish what we have. When this is ripped from our grasp, the hurt is compounded by love—because, after all, mostly what we grieve is a loss of love in our lives and in others’.

So while I am certainly not here to tell you exactly what needs to be done to “feel better” (because feeling better may not be what you need), I would like to offer a space to read wise words of condolence, understanding and, ultimately, hope for how to live with grief.

When loss is a story, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no pressure to move on. There is no shame in intensity or duration. Sadness, regret, confusion, yearning and all the experiences of grief become part of the narrative of love for the one who died.Patrick O’Malley

This is what parenting a child with no future has taught me: Nothing is forever. There is only now, the moment, the love you bear, the knowledge that loving is about letting go, and that the power of a person’s grief is a reflection of the depth of their love. — Emily Rapp

That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)

Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim. Vicki Harrison

Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you'll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you'll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room. — Cheryl Strayed

I’ve learned that the timing of bereavement — perhaps like the initial stages of falling in love — is utterly unpredictable.Lucy Kalanithi

I can’t go on, I thought, and immediately, its antiphon responded, completing Samuel Beckett’s seven words, words I had learned long ago as an undergraduate: I’ll go on. I got out of bed and took a step forward, repeating the phrase over and over: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’ — Paul Kalanithi (When Breath Becomes Air)

Everyone can master a grief but he that has it.William Shakespeare (Much Ado About Nothing, Act III, Scene II, Line 26)

Death; wow. So fucking hard to bear, when the few people you cannot live without die. You will never get over these losses, and are not supposed to. But their absence will also be a lifelong nightmare of homesickness for you. All truth is a paradox. Grief, friends, time and tears will heal you. Tears will bathe and baptize and hydrate you and the ground on which you walk. — Anne Lamott

p.s. How to console a grieving friend