Some fragmented thoughts on my beloved late mother-in-law, the impossibility of preparing for sorrow, and the weirdness of recognizing the magnitude of love
The thing that sustained me after my husband’s death came from my bishop, Doug Fisher. Every Easter he reminds us that we tell a great truth on Ash Wednesday when we say “remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return” But he also reminds us that there is another great truth —“remember that love is stronger than death, and to that love you shall return.” We mark each other’s foreheads with chrism at Easter, just as we mark them with ashes at the start of Lent.
When Matt died, I got a tattoo that says “Love is stronger than death”
May you and Tristan and the whole family feel that in your soul
Everyone needs an Ashie in their lives to love them so well!! Your words about your grief are so tender and probably the closest I have ever read to the grieving I’ve experienced in my life!! Thank you!!
Steadiness in grief? I can’t say I’ve found steadiness. When my dear dad died of Covid 6 mo ago I felt so sad and surprised. He was always the rock. My dear emails from Jeff and others that I read help me know beauty and life and new creative things are still happening.
I lost both parents and our 13 year old dog last year. On any given day, I'd be hard pressed to tell you which was hardest. Words like yours help. Friends to cry with and remember with. And as much as it is a tired trope....time does help. For me the waves of grief are still hard to stand up against but they seem to come a little less frequently. But again, on any given day, the memory of my mama's laugh, my daddy's hug or our sweet Lucy's gaze can undo me. Thanks for sharing this space with all of us.
Jan Richardsons poems have meant a great deal to me in grief, and people bringing food. Not: platitudes. This was beautiful, thank you for sharing your experience with us.
Jeff, first of all, I am so sorry for Tristan's and your loss. Ashie sounds like a wonderful woman. Second, thank you for the ways you have captured her place in your life and your heart. As I reflect on your question, there's no doubt that I got through the grief of losing my parents, and other hard emotional times, I've been sustained by writing. My favorite genre is poetry, but I do so appreciate your personal reflections. Thank you.
I am so very, very sorry for your loss, and am holding your entire family up in light and love. What's helped me in grief is leaning into it, and not trying to minimize the loss, to realize grief will revisit in odd moments of recall, sometimes painful and cutting, and sometimes bittersweet. The words I turn to again and again are Mary Oliver's "In Blackwater Woods." Thank you for sharing.
Losing a friend of 25 years with whom I shared countless talks, walks and life adventures, I find solace in celebrating her however small every day
I'm so sorry..what a treasure she was. I think the butter reference was what got to me. the things that stop us in our tracks that bring our loss into that particular moment. you must have been a delight to her. may God comfort you all.
I have learned the classic five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining with God, depression, acceptance. I quickly learned thereafter that these stages are not progressive. When I was in the depths of depression it did not mean that I had passed through the anger or the bargaining or the sweet "I'm fine! How are you?" denial of what was churning in my soul. All five stages arrive whenever they feel like it and sometimes all within the time it takes for the light to change. I am learning that grief is not an orderly march from one stage to the next. It is more like a dance where I am handed from one random whirling partner to the next with no idea when the music is going to stop or which one is going to tag out next.
What has brought me warmth is learning that the music never does really stop. It just gets quieter with time. It blends in and harmonizes with the music I am creating -- becoming a part of the bass-line of the symphony that plays in my heart and soul going forward.
Or just maybe (switching metaphors. Sorry ... but maybe not too much.) it becomes the "brown" of brown butter. Even more delicious because it has suffered.
Jeff - I am eager to see you again when you join our church community for a few days later in April. Hugs await.
Thank you Jeff for these loving, grace-filled authentic words. I met yesterday with a man in our faith community who said: “I am not ready for my grandma to die.” She is 96, a giant of grace and an angel of love. Honestly as her pastor I am not ready for her to die either. He said she was the only unconditional love he has experienced in his entire life and he did not want to lose that foundation. I don’t blame him. We discussed faith, talking to her to learn how she grieved(losing a sister, a child, and her husband) and being in the presence of those who know. Thank you for knowing Jeff. Your words will be a gift to him as they were to me. God’s peace.
Thank you for sharing. I’m sending all of my love to you all right now. I recently wrote a poem about my grandmother... I think writing has been part of my healing for numerous things. I hope writing this for us helped you, too. I also have plans to make blueberry muffins, a food that makes me think of her, to take to work later this week. Making and sharing muffins, her wassail, and other recipes of hers brings me comfort. Sometimes I cry through it and other times I just smile.
I’m so incredibly sorry she’s died too early Jeff; Ashie sounds like she was an absolutely amazing person. Thank you for sharing so generously even in the midst of you grief. I am inspired by your line about how she left a legacy of a beautifully close family. I hope I can love my family like that. I’ll be praying for you and Tristan.
And in response to your question about what brought life during grief, when my dad died suddenly of a heart attack when I was 17, my sweet mom shared a picture she’d had of me while praying— my bed was like God’s hands, and I was resting in them, safe. Also, the morning after my dad died, I opened his travel Bible that and always on his nightstand, and opened the bookmarks to Psalm 34, where verse 18 was practically highlighted by the Holy Spirit: the Lord is close to the broken hearted and is with those crushed in spirit. Those two specific ways that Jesus loved me in my particular grief steadied me through that season, and have through every other season of grief since then.
Jeff I am so sorry for your and Tristan's loss. She sounds like she was an amazing gift to your lives and the world.
Dear Jeff and Tristan, please know I am so very sorry for your loss. Ashie sounds like a wonderful lady - who had her heart and her faith sorted out really well. I'm would have loved to have had the privilege of knowing her. What helps me in times of grief is trusting that God is loving and good, and holding me close, helping me "make it through the night".
I’m glad you were loved by such a lovely sounding Ashie!