Tag Archives: Grief Changes Us

What is Grief?

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops borders around a banyan tree with hugging, intertwining branches.After life, as I knew it, got shot to the stars, grief charred me from the inside out. There were good days and bad days. I sometimes forgot my sadness. Briefly. Other times, for days, I’d be cranky and complain, “I can’t do this. I hate this. This is too hard.”

“Can we talk in terms of solutions rather than problems?” a wise friend asked, when she saw me struggling on a bad day. Then she said, “Keep coming back to what you love,” and I almost cried. Because to me, that meant coming back to my daughter who died. Everyone else was telling me, “It’s time to move on.” If grief was something to “get over” or “get through,” I was failing miserably. So to hear that I could come back, was to understand that there is no time limit on mourning the loss of a loved one. It allowed me to slowly get used to my shaken world. It allowed that my grieving might never be completely done.

Can we think of grief as something more than pain and suffering? It’s been more gently defined as love’s unwillingness to let go, the price of love, or love with nowhere to go. Holding tight to our loved one’s memory and spirit, when we grieve we are expressing our love.

Grief is also the slow redefining of our relationship with the one we love who died. It is the effort to rebuild around the giant hole they leave in our lives. We can choose to weave the emotional bond, the memory, their values and voice into a new way of carrying them with us.

And maybe grief is, now and forever, a part of your story. A part of who you are. One more layer in the trillions of layers that shape you. Maybe it’s a small spark of transformation and growth. For all that has happened, for all the heartache of my loss, I am a better person now.


How has grieving changed you? Or is recent grief still scorching you from the inside out?

Grief Changes Us

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, wearing cactus and thanking her lucky stars she's not roadkill.“What kind of progress do you feel you’ve made?” This was the question posed after each member of the small group checked in with a brief personal status report. For various reasons, people were uncomfortable with the question. “Have you experienced any movement?” it was rephrased. They went around the table twice before it became obvious I had not contributed.

Progress implies a destination or goal. Progress is what I am making with my manuscript. But I do not have a direction for my grieving. I don’t believe grief is something to get over or through.
Movement, yes; grief changes. I have changed.
Last week marks four years since my daughter died and I am not the same person I was before. I am no longer stuck like a bled-dry carcass getting pummeled on the highway.

Realizing I would have to say something to the group, I quickly came up with an idea: “People,” I said, as in, “people became more important to me since my daughter’s death.” The first thing that flies out of my mouth is often the closest I can get to the truth:

When my daughter died, I thought I was alone. I couldn’t see beyond my wretched self. Marika had left behind a heartbroken brother and father, aunts and grandparents. Friends. But I was too deep into my own misery. It took time to discover other parents in pain and people struggling with all kinds of loss. Later still, I began to hope I could offer comfort to others who grieve:

I want to tell those who are new to grief that it does change; it gets lighter, especially when you share with other people.

I want to thank all the people who hugged, wrote, called, emailed, responded to me on my site and on Facebook. If it weren’t for you I might still be roadkill.


How have you been changed by loss?