You walk into the vet with a Saint Bernard and you leave with an empty collar that somehow weighs more than she ever did, 120 pounds of sadness pressing down against your chest. This is your second dog lost in seven days, following the evaporation of your 16 year marriage, and the grief feels too massive, something you can’t possibly bear. But you aren’t alone—you must also shepherd your children through this journey—and so you bundle their grief up too, folding it neatly into hatboxes and fastening it atop your own steamer trunk of sorrow with a strong sisal rope. And when your handle breaks, you gather the weight into your arms, cradling it like an overgrown child too old to be carried, yet still needing comfort. Burdened so, you sit by the river and, as the waves of fear and sorrow flood your body, you try not to flee but to be present to the pain. Wisdom must be earned—you know this—but the opposite bank seems too distant, a shore you can never hope to reach. You dip your toes in the water, thinking perhaps your load will become buoyant, that maybe you can grab hold of it like an overtipped canoe and float, carried along by the current. For even if you can never ford this river, somewhere downstream there must be a way out of this place, if only you follow its meandering curves far enough along. The weight of the grief drags you under and you think: I could just let go and I’d be free. Then you remember: Carrying grief is sacred work. So you kick your feet and surface, knowing that of course you can hold on to this burden a little longer. You’ve been carrying it all this time.