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.’