300 Words About Grief.


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.

About Cindy Reed

I hate pants.
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20 Responses to 300 Words About Grief.

  1. Stacie says:

    <3 This is too too much. I'm so sorry. 2016 needs to take a hike already.

  2. Jody Stadler says:

    I am so sorry for your losses. Also, what you have written so poetically is true…

  3. gfunkified says:

    Oh, shit. God, life is unfair. Sending you all my love.

  4. Woody Winfree says:

    My heart feels your ache. I just came in from a marathon shopping trip to Costco, and propped my front door open with a rock to walk the large packages of Charmin and boxed goods into the house. The same rock I always used to hold the door open so my beloved hound mix, Roxy, would lounge in the front yard – where she would stay comfortably for hours, only IF the door was propped open. With that memory of her, I walked to my desk to lift her gilded framed picture that is now the only daily presence I have of her. I stroked her face and told her how much I missed her. Then, I called up my emails, that led me to your post.
    My heart feels your ache.

  5. 1) ohmygodthoseyes 2)WTF, canyougetabreakalready? 3)notreallysurewhyI’mcommunicatinginhashtag
    4) Alljokingaside = I love the very last image. You kicking back up to the surface meandering down the river ready for the next chapter. A great reframe to subject of grief. Loved it

  6. Sarah Buchanan says:

    This piece of writing is gorgeous. Thank you for sharing it. And I hope your journey gets incrementally easier.

  7. Patricia Eagle says:

    I read your words this morning before ceremonializing a 10 yo dog who had to be put to sleep, then burying her. I respond in the aftermath. Grief is so huge that in the cracks there is even room for joy.
    What big losses, Cindy, and so much necessary grief. Turn on the shower and wail. Grab those girls and whoop with delight. Feel this heartfelt hug.

  8. Kim Kirkley says:

    Heart breaking, Cindy. We love you.

  9. sending love, light, peace, hope to you dearest of the dear ones Cindy Reed. As Kim says above…we love you! so many many many of us!

  10. Shae Uisna says:

    What a beautiful dog. My heart aches. Much love to you, Cindy. “It is indeed a fearful thing to love that which death can touch.”

  11. This was my experience in 2013, with a husband dying and a child to shepard through grief. The weight of this post takes me back there.

    I am so sorry for your loss.

  12. NK says:

    Absolutely beautiful. And sad. But beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.

    • NK says:

      I’m a slow processor so I hope you don’t mind the follow up. I just like to chew on something before going deeper with my feedback. In the moment, though, I like to give people that punch in the gut reaction. What really resonated was the fact that this was written in the 2nd person: an unusual perspective. That cushions the blow a little and also allows the reader to know that by the end you will not be at a place of “all hope is lost” but more one of, “I got this. Even if at moments I don’t think I do… I got this.”

  13. I remember when Lola came into your lives and how the hope was that sge would make everything–well, many things–better. So sad she had to leave so soon.

  14. Ann Scanlon says:

    You’ve written about grief so beautifully. I recently lost my sister and also wrote about it. I am sorry for your losses. I recently came across the following and thought I would share. One day at a time…

    by Gwen Flowers

    I had my own notion of grief.
    I thought it was the sad time
    That followed the death of someone you love.
    And you had to push through it
    To get to the other side.
    But I’m learning there is no other side.
    There is no pushing through.
    But rather,
    There is absorption.
    And grief is not something you complete,
    But rather, you endure.
    Grief is not a task to finish
    And move on,
    But an element of yourself-
    An alteration of your being.
    A new way of seeing.
    A new definition of self.

  15. Danielle says:

    God, I’m so sorry. I’ve yet to experience grief along side my children, only when they were too young to understand. Your words are so beautiful and accurately descriptive of what grief actually feels like; which is something that is difficult to describe with such calmness.

    I’m sending love to you and your kids. Hopefully the three of you can find ease for your pain together.

  16. JingleJangle says:

    You write about grief with painful clarity. I love the analogy of the ‘steamer trunk’, a messy bundle of family grief that is to be dragged forward by the leader. Sounds like it’s been an awful time, and I hope you find some peace soon.

  17. d3athlily says:

    I wish I could take all of this away for you. Despite your pain and sadness, you still have the ability to show, rather than tell, how it all feels. My heart goes out to you and your kids. <3

  18. beautifully written but most importantly beautifully thought through. survival. its what you do.
    so profoundly sad and yet somehow important and even uplifting. that’s what going forward means.

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