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Working With Grief Through Solitude

Psalm (55:7-8) says, “O that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and find rest there.”

I had taken some time off from the blog to reflect and rest. Winter has given me a chance to – well, winter! And do less and to ‘be’ a little more. This winter has been particularly cold.  This has been a season for great solitude.

When we take time out to reflect and contemplate our lives, it enhances our spirituality.

This past week my former spiritual advisor died a peaceful death. He had been suffering from dementia and declined over time.  It was amazing how hard the grief hit me. Although we had lost him mentally years ago, it was still another loss.
What amazed me is the amount of memories that came flooding back. I remember the day I met him. He helped me understand my infertility as a spiritual metaphor for powerlessness. It was not a Divine punishment. He was the happiest for me when I got pregnant – and even more overjoyed to learn it was with twins.
He was not of the Jewish faith, but he had the honor of being a part of my sons’ Brit Milah – the ritual circumcision ceremony. I got to celebrate with he and his wife at his 70th birthday party. Last Fall, I had the privilege of helping him move to a memory care facility. It got too difficult to care for him at home. I am thankful he was able to spend the last few months at home on hospice.


What I have learned about grief is that:

  • We can commit to be gentle with ourselves.
  • There is no timeline for healing.
  • Our society sends us negative messages about grief. (i.e. “since they’re in a better place, we shouldn’t be so sorrowful.”)
There are a lot of untruths about death that I wanted to dispel. First, not everyone sees death the same way. It isn’t right to assume we all believe “They are in a better place.” Maybe they are, but not everyone believes that. So, I don’t say that to someone who is grieving. Second, we all grieve in different ways.

There is no wrong or right way to grieve.

Finally, because of COVID, it disrupted our usual mourning rituals. We cannot gather together physically, as we have done for centuries. Mourning is not something we are supposed to do alone. It now has become even more difficult because of the social isolation. Thus, we have to be committed to being gentle and patient with grief.
It is difficult during normal times, it is even more arduous now.

Mourning is not a linear process. It is fraught with ups and downs.

There is a poem by Merrit Malloy that has given me great comfort. It says,


When I die, give what’s left of 

me to children And if you need to cry, 

cry for your brother 

walking the street beside 


When you need me, 

put your arm around anyone 

and give them what you need 

to give me.

I want to leave you something, something better

than words or sounds; look 

for me in the people I’ve known 

or loved.

And if you cannot give me away, 

at least let me live in your eyes

and not on your mind.

You can love me most by

letting hands

touch hands, by letting bodies

touch bodies,

and letting go of children that 

need to be free.

Love doesn’t die; people do.

So when all that’s left of me is love,

give me away.

Finding The Way Through Grief

After the death of someone significant, it is normal to have to find your place in the world. There are no destinations, but rather, just more paths to travel. It’s normal to wonder if things will ever feel the same again. And the truth is, “No.” We will never be the same as we were before the death. What we start out believing collapses as we learn and experience truth.

We have to have courage if we are going to love someone. Because those we love will eventually die. Everything that lives must die. That is the price of life.

So the question is – are we willing to risk loving someone, knowing that they will one day become a part of our living memory?

That, I believe, is the eternal question. Are we willing to be brave enough to fully love another person? And when they go – are we willing to let them live on by giving them away?

I would love to hear your stories about your grief process. Drop a comment below or feel free to email me. Until we meet again – may you be blessed along your spiritual journey!

Other blog posts about grief:


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