I was at a dinner sitting across from a woman whose husband had died 11 months earlier. We talked about grief and I made the comment that I thought she was doing remarkably well. Then she made this gesture with her hands, like a wave. “It’s like that. Up and down.”
What do I know about grief? My parents are still around, my family is in good health, but I still grieve for a classmate who died of ALS and a neighbor felled by a brain tumor and my mentor and friend Van who I expect to call any moment even though he’s been gone for two years. The losses accumulate with the years and I pray for every one of them. How can you not pray for the dead when so many you love are gone?
Back at my office, I turned to a book I’d been reading, a terrific memoir by my friend Rosanne Cash, Composed. In it she writes about dealing with the death of her mom, her father Johnny Cash and her stepmom June Carter Cash in the space of 18 months.
“Deep sorrow and traces of great loss run through everyone’s lives and yet they let others step into the elevator first, wave them ahead in a line of traffic, smile and greet their children and inquire about their lives, and never let on for a second that they, too, have lain awake at night in longing and regret, that they, too, have cried until it seemed impossible that one person could hold so many tears, that they, too, keep a picture of someone locked in their heart and bring it out in quiet, solitary moments to caress and remember.
“Loss is the great unifier, the terrible club to which we all eventually belong.”
Grief is terrible, but it’s one place you’re never alone.
Watch Rosanne Cash sing a popular folk song for the Guideposts audience.
The above quote was reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from Composedby Rosanne Cash. Copyright © 2010 by Rosanne Cash