Saturday, December 5, 2015

Everything Is NOT Going To Be All Right

An acquaintance gave me a book when he learned that my husband had died, called Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working through Grief. The author, Martha Hickman, is familiar with grief; her daughter died in her teens. Every day has a quote culled from a wide variety of sources and a brief commentary by Ms. Hickman.
I have found the book only mildly helpful, partly because of her Christian framework. Of most interest to me are the quotes, some of which have been quite meaningful.
For the first few months of my grief I read it every day, along with passages from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Whitman’s poetry was a lifeline for me, day after day I found solace and peace in his words.
I quit reading Ms. Hickman’s book early this fall because it just wasn’t feeding me. But I’ve picked it back up just to go through the rest of the book looking for useful quotes.
Today I got to October 31, and the quote was: “All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” [Julian Norwich] Ms. Hickman writes how someone told her, when her daughter died, “Everything’s going to be all right.” She thought that was crazy at the time, but then found herself using those same words when she comforted another woman who lost a child. Clearly she now thinks this sentiment has comfort-value.
I can’t imagine how horrible I’d have felt if someone had said that to me in the first days of my grief. I remember being somewhat appalled when people told me my grief would lessen over time. Even here, at ten months in, I find the idea offensive. I don’t think “Everything is going to be all right” is comforting at all. Everything isn’t all right, and without my lover there will always be something amiss. He’s gone and there’s a hole in my life. How can that be all right?

Maybe at some future date I will see that everything is all right, but I just don’t see how that is an appropriate thing to say to someone in the midst of grief. What means something to me now is ‘I know you’re hurting; this grief is a reflection of your love. Embrace the love and the grief. Let me embrace you and weep with you.’


  1. I resonate with so much here. I love Leaves of Grass - read to me as a child it influenced the whole of the rest of my life. And it is so synchronistic that you should mention "All is well". It is a song that I have sung repeatedly to myself through my loss and grief of the last few years. Perhaps there is a "both-and" here. Yes to acknowledging the hurting and embracing the grief and yes to "all manner of things shall be well." I wonder what else might be possible? And I wonder if all is ultimately "well" in nature's infinite wisdom of keeping us in the balance even when it appears to be chaos. Is it not "well" to grieve?

  2. Yes "all shall be well." I believe in my heart of hearts that all is perfect, there is no flaw in this universe. What I was trying to do here was give a piece of advice on how to console someone in the midst of grief.