Friday, January 03, 2020

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

For those of you grieving, the new year talk of resolutions and excitement can feel overwhelming, or just plain wrong.

If you feel out of step with everyone else, don't beat yourself up, ok?

People who know serious grief know there is no getting over it.

You never get over the loss of a child.
You never get over the loss of a spouse.
You never get over the loss of a brother or sister.

But you can learn to live in a new reality.
You can make peace with loss.
But you do that on your own time, in your own way.

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed is a collection of replies to letters sent to Dear Sugar, and a book that has brought great comfort to a lot of people. I keep copies on hand to give out as needed.

Maybe it will be helpful for you too.


nightsmusic said...

My heart goes out to all the Reiders here who are grieving at this time of year. It's especially hard during the holidays. I know. I've been there too. Many years ago now, my mother just...died. One minute she was there, the next, she wasn't. I had a one year old baby, a husband with a new job of one month and a father who fell apart. An only child, everything fell on me. So I buried my mother Christmas Eve morning, kept myself together long enough to get through the holidays and by the time they were over, I'd buried my grief in order to not fall apart for my dad and I never did melt down.

I still miss my parents and Christmas can be especially hard. I find myself tearing up at the oddest moments. You never get over the grief. You shouldn't. But you learn to live with it and you also learn to celebrate the wonderful times. For some, that comes early. For others, it takes months or years. But it will come.

Hugs to all of you grieving.

CynthiaMc said...

By the time I was twenty-eight both of my parents and my oldest brother had passed away. What kept me going was reminding myself of the life they expected me to live, a good life where their most ringing piece of advice was "don't do anything stupid."

Also when you're Catholic and realize you not only have a guardian angel but God and several members of your heavenly family are rooting for you and also keeping you under surveillance, the desire to do stupid things withers, as it should.

You can outrun, lie to, and avoid earthly parents. With heavenly parents it's easier just to suck it up, live a good life, and be grateful they taught you how.

Brenda said...

Buying this. Thanks.

Chris Desson said...

December hit me harder than I thought it would. I buried my mother in February. We talked, or rather she talked and I listened, every single holiday, birthday, and Sunday. I was semi-fine after Mother's day passed, but then the holidays began and all I wanted to do was lay on the couch. I couldn't write or do anything that felt remotely creative. I put up the tree for my kids but this last year was the first time in their lives I didn't have the energy to decorate the house or string lights. When my brother died, I kicked, screamed, and threw things. But my mom......... she was my childhood, my rock, my strength.

JulieWeathers said...

This is a good book. I highly recommend it.

Mother was circling the drain over the holidays remember Stevie my little brother who died two weeks before his sixth birthday. He died sixty years ago, so that tells you how long that grief lasts. I honestly thought she was going to lose it. I think it gets worse as you get older.

I wanted to wallow around for my own child, but was busy trying to cheer her up. It was draining.

The plus side is and this sounds crass, suffering a loss plumbs the depths of your soul. As writers, we can peer into the emotional abyss and pull it up onto the page if we are very lucky and very brave.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

"We can peer into the emotional abyss..." Julie, Yes. If we are brave.

No one will get through this life without knowing loss. The suffering is an individual and personal thing. I still grieve for my brother - still gutted by his death.

Our veterinarian just left. She came out to the sanctuary early this morning to euthanize one of our elderly horses. 30 years of living with a herd that has numbered in the 70s - saying goodbye still ruins me. I'm here alone and must now go tend to his body.

"The stars are not wanted now. Put out every one. Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun." ~ W.H. Auden

nightsmusic said...

Awww Melanie, I'm so very sorry and I'm crying with you. The loss of family and friends hurts terribly but the loss of an animal friend is something different. It hurts in a way that is hard to define. Hugs to you for your loss. :(

Lennon Faris said...

Just listening here today. Hugs to all you Reiders who are grieving.

Mama Mel, just sent you an email.

Eileen said...

I lurk daily and rarely comment, but I wanted to let you know that sharing your words of encouragement and support really help people you don’t even know are listening. 2019 was a rough year for me. My mother had cascading health crises and, in the middle of it all, my brother died. We had to break Mom out of the hospital AMA to bring her to his deathbed. I spent months away from home caring for Mom, barely keeping up with work and unable to write a word on my nearly finished novel. But I came here every day to read the blog and comments. It was such a gift for me to feel connected in some way to my “normal” life, and I thank you all for it. This Christmas was joyous. Mom was with us and the silver lining of her dementia was blessed forgetfulness of the struggles of the past year. I’m taking that live-in-the-moment lesson forward through the New Year. I’m sharing this in case it helps anyone else out there. Now, I have to get back to writing. Thanks for listening.

Claire Bobrow said...

Some powerful stories have been shared here today, and it's so nice to see the love and support in this community. Tiny Beautiful Things is a great recommendation for shoring up the spirit.

Lucie Witt said...

My thoughts are with everyone here dealing with grief, no matter how fresh the pain or how old and deep the scar.

The holidays are indeed hard. My brother overdosed in November, one week after my birthday. My father found him. He left a 4yo daughter behind. Since he died we've had Thanksgiving, my niece's ballet we planned to attend together (he offered to buy my ticket and it was the last conversation we had), and Christmas and NY. He would have been 33 on Dec. 30. The holidays feel like an ocean of days to get through.

I forgot I own TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS. Time to pull it down off the shelf and make a raft.

Beth Carpenter said...

I hope you don't mind, but I've said a prayer for each of you today, and for those who didn't say anything but feel it.

Colin Smith said...

Hugs to Lucie and all the other grieving Reefers. I can only imagine what your grief feels like by imagining that loss for myself. I'm thankful I have yet to experience the reality (my Dad died nearly 14 years ago and while I was sad, I was 3,000 miles away, and he had been sick for a while so it was not sudden or unexpected). It is good to remember that time will bring this reality to all of us at some point. Not something we like to think about, but it's a sobering truth that often gives perspective to the present.

Chris Desson said...

This...the love and support... is why I read the comments, and not just Ms. Janet's inspirationally informative and honest blog posts, each and every day. Thank you to those who shared your stories, hugs, and prayers. I feel blessed to have found such a wonderful family on the Reef. I love you all---Christine

Fearless Reider said...

Thank you for sharing your stories and for listening. The past year has been brutal indeed. We lost my 16-year-old nephew to suicide in November 2018 and it could not have been a more shocking bolt from the clear blue sky. Losing a child is one thing I hoped I would never have in common with my sister. A few days after his death, I gave her a necklace she wears at all times, a silver puzzle piece etched with his initials. No, there is no getting over, only carrying forward.

We didn’t think we would have any tears left to shed when our dad died of cancer in February, but there are always more than can be wrung out of us. I’m grateful he had a beautiful death. He had been in a deep coma for two days, but in the last moment before he died he became wide awake, his face radiant with joy, raised up his hands and he tried to speak. I wish we could have seen what he saw, but seeing his transfigured face was enough. My sister and I have no doubt he was greeting his beloved grandsons. It was the most amazing thing I’ve seen in a lifetime of pretty amazing things.

Sending love to all who mourn and all who lift up others in their grief.

Fearless Reider said...

Sorry, I have already gone on too long, but can’t resist adding an “amen” to Julie’s comment about plumbing the depths. When life keeps doling out manure, you turn that shite into compost.

I used to help organize an annual conference at our children’s hospital for parents whose kids started life in the NICU (the son we lost to cancer at 3 had been born at 24 weeks, and our youngest son also did a month in the NICU). I was getting to know a new mom on the committee, a writer who was just finishing up her MFA. She listened to my story with wide eyes and replied, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you’ve got MATERIAL!”. Only a fellow writer could get away with that.

I would love to put in a plug for my favorite novel on grief, THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB by Peter DeVries. I’m afraid it’s not read much anymore, though it did get a few minutes of renewed fame when THE FAULT IN OUR STARS came out, as John Greene cites it as an influence. It’s wildly funny, deeply sad, and profoundly beautiful, just like life.

CynthiaMc said...

Our son (who grew up to be a Marine) spent 3 months in the Sacred Heart NICU when he was born at 27 weeks, 1 pound 6 ounces. Years later my great niece and nephew spent time in the Winnie Palmer NICU. My niece often said knowing her cousin had graduated (we sent graduation announcements for him instead of birth announcements since it was scary times for a while). He gave her hope for her twins.

Sometimes, if we're lucky, our hell becomes someone else's hope.

Craig F said...

That ancient tome known as the Talmud says that mourning can never be less than a year because each crystalline morning is a fresh tragedy.

That had to be a short term study. It hits you from behind at the best of moments, but there is still life to live. The holidays are still not my friend, but by the age of 13 most of us have had a tragedy effect us.

The roots of the briars of mourning that catch us up go a long way. Sometimes it takes us deep into our selves to get them cleaned out. They still come back and bite us often.

Laura Stegman said...

Just catching up on this thread, so moved and inspired by the honesty and humanity here. Like Beth, permit me to say a prayer for everyone suffering. Glad to have arrived on the Reef even though I mostly lurk.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Wrote this, got distracted and never sent. Now I'm sending because the grief never goes away. It sleeps sometimes but awakes when I least expect it.

Dec. 22,1983 a sad, sad date tattooed on my heart forever.
Rest in peace tiny soul.

I have the book. It helps.

Linda Shantz said...

It's a hard time of year to get through when it seems everyone expects you to be happy - so take care, everyone in that position.

Melanie - I'm sorry you're alone for that. It never gets easier.

Kate Higgins said...

The problem with humans is we always think there is still time...

Kate Higgins said...

I lost my husband of 40 years, April 26, 2019 to melanoma brain cancer. I feel for all of you who have lost someone. They will always be part of your story.