Jamie's Blog

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Good Grief

Not long ago I opened Twitter to a Blip.fm of Sarah McLachlan's "I will remember you" and choked up. As the song played a well of sadness opened up in me, and I realized how heavy my heart had been all week without me even noticing. What I had noticed was how stressed and overwhelming my life seemed, and that I was tired beyond reason. This poignant song from a stranger on Twitter opened the floodgates, not just of tears (which it did) but of memories I had been holding at bay—that month my hairdresser died at 32, that week my dentist succumbed to a life-long battle with depression, and the 30 year old son of friends died in his sleep.

I did not cry until that morning, and it felt good.

I know better than to bottle up pain. I am a therapist, for crying out loud—grief counseling is one of my specialties! How in the world did I let this happen? In the first place, a degree in psychotherapy does not confer immunity from the storms of life. At best, the hours spent helping people through their Katrinas can teach us what really matters, so we don’t waste energy on the teapot variety. Knowing that, I still allowed this reasonable grief to dam up inside until I found myself on the outside of my life looking in with leaden longing.

Then a dollop of grace fell on my weary mind, and tears gave me strength to feel, and to understand. There is a verse in the Bible that always seemed silly to me: “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Be glad when we lose loved ones, for we will be comforted??? That hardly seems worth saying. Then I lost loved ones, and learned that mourning is a funeral every day for months. A card in the mail, a song on the radio, and suddenly we drop into a pool of sorrow. And there are unwanted thoughts of anger and guilt that demand expression. Tears of grief weigh more than mercury, and must flow out—they do not go away, and if denied will crush us from within as surely as a tumor crowds the life out of a liver. This is all part of mourning, the kind that brings comfort. We call it grief work. I was comforted because I finally felt the pain I did not want to feel.

So I say, Blessed are they who do their grief work, for they will find comfort.

PS that stranger on Twitter is now a friend.


  1. That is such a bittersweet story Jamie. Have two close therapists in my life and I believe it is harder on them/you than anyone else because, being trained to be "the strong one"; I don't know that the formal education reminds the professional that there are times of grief in their own lives (and with how it is dealt); Good going (in shedding well needed tears; you brought some to my eye as well), reminding me of all the impt losses along the way, and how hard it is sometimes to remember to grieve, even when I'm sometimes "supposed to be the strong one". Thanks kindly princess, and very sorry for that loss. xx00luv Rick London

  2. I think that in everything we experience in life there are at least reminders, if not lessons, we take away. To those who read this, your experiences over the past week serve as a good reminder that we all need to allow our emotions to flow and not hold them in. You've had three experiences in a week that many aren't asked to witness in a years time, or more. Thankfully, God really does move (us) in mysterious ways, and today's chance encounter of a song with just right words is further evidence of this. I know you have some really good friends in our small twitter community, and we are always here to lend an ear (or a shoulder, virtually speaking!). So sorry to learn of these painful losses in your life, however I see God is hard at work in helping you deal with the pain. God Bless. DYerMaker (Mike)

  3. Jamie,

    I glad I was able to inspire you and spark your need to mourn. I am also glad that you now consider me your friend.


  4. Jamie,

    I am so sorry I was not there for you this week. How awful to have so much loss back to back. I was so caught up in my own joy that I forgot to look around me. If I ever do this again, you have my permission to hit me with a brick.


  5. thelittlefluffycatMarch 18, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    Was talking to a friend who does grief work with a group today, and she quoted one of their sayings at me - "can't go over grief, or around it, or under it - have to go through it!" I had much the same thing happen to me, although not all in a week, over a period of YEARS - and it was truly terrible when it caught up with me. I am glad something tapped it for you today, and let off some of the pressure. Don't forget that the rest of it's still there, okay?

  6. CS Lewis said in A Grief Observed about mourning the loss of his wife: I didn't know you could cry so much that tears wouldn't come ...

  7. Jamie, I'm sorry for the losses you have suffered in recent weeks.
    Just wanted to say thank you.... I needed to read this today. Normaly I don't click on links on twitter but I did today and happy for it. Even people you never have met can lift you up.
    Thanks :)

  8. I think CS Lewis said, "We read to know that we are not alone." I think that is also why we write. I am glad my need and yours converged to help you this day. I truly thank you for letting me know.
    PS We live nearby, Hollister to Campbell. What's your nonprofit?