grief quote by washington irving - there is sacredness in tears

I woke up today at a loss for words. Wanting to say something here, but not sure what. It’s the second anniversary of my dad’s death and, honestly, it sucks. But who wants to read that? 

Then, my childhood friend Tracy, who knew and loved my dad, sent me this note via Facebook: “As I find myself crying…it’s because it sucks. I am sending rainbows and cake with a ton of frosting and positive love but ya know what? It also sucks. I love you and wish I could take on any pain your family has today.” 

I so appreciated her not sugar-coating it, but honoring the suckiness of it all (though the imaginary rainbows and frosting were much appreciated).

It reminded me of attending a funeral for one of my mom’s friends just a couple of weeks after my dad’s death. Our pain was still so raw and it was heart-wrenching to watch another family coming to grips with their loss. When my mom introduced me to her friend’s son, I meant to offer kind condolences (and rainbows and frosting), but what came spilling out was: “I just want you to know I know how much this sucks.”

He grabbed me and hugged me, saying, “Yes! This totally sucks. Thank you for saying it out loud.” We bonded briefly over the suckfest of losing a beloved parent – and it felt really good. Really real. Really healing.

Ryder with Papa at baseball gameMeanwhile, in the car with Ryder last week, he heard the word “cancer” on the radio and quietly said he misses doing “sports stuff” with Papa – playing catch, having him at games, talking stats. “But I don’t like to think about Papa for very long because I start to get mad at him for leaving,” he said. “I mean, I know he’s still watching me – and then I feel bad for being mad at Papa.” 

I nearly crumpled into a thousand tears. I can’t tell you how glad I was that my 10 year old was able to put those feelings into words. I was able to tell him I get mad, too – and that Papa was probably maddest of all about having to go. “It doesn’t seem fair and it just kind of sucks,” I told him. “But the best thing you can do is feel all those feelings. Sad, mad, bad and sometimes even happy about old memories or knowing he’s watching out for you.”

Once again, owning up to the suckiness (hereby declaring this an actual word) felt real and honest and good. So, I guess that’s what I wanted to say today. In these past two years, there’s been lots of beauty, too – healing, remembering, laughing, sharing, strength, growth. But there’s great relief in being able to hold both sweetness and suckiness inside the hole in my heart.

The crippling grief has faded. Family dynamics have shifted. A new normal is still forming. Joy and hope have been restored. Amazing how we all find the strength to carry on, isn’t it? But there are still days or moments that suck, and there probably always will be. And it’s going to be okay.