Taking a Day Off From Grief

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops the sky through trees when she takes time off from grief.“What magnificent thing will we do today?” I ask my daughter. She’s been dead for six years now, but this is how I begin my days. Walking the dog in the driveway, looking through trees to see what color the sky is wearing, I say, “What magnificent thing, Marika?”

Almost anything I do after dragging myself out of bed qualifies as magnificent. Other than burrowing back under the covers. The ‘magnificent thing’ is something that has the potential to propel me forward. For a while. Something to look forward to, that might even make me feel good. Because, if I don’t plan or push myself, I could easily spend my time immobilized by grief, moping and miserable. The work of facing the world and putting a life back together is exhausting. Grief invades your sleep, your physical and mental wellbeing, your creativity, all parts of your life. Counselors and support sites agree that taking time off from grieving helps us heal. Not that we can simply switch it on or off, but we can nudge it over from center stage to the background, or take baby-steps back from it to focus on something else for a while. To recharge. Regain strength, courage and hope.

Last weekend a friend asked me to go with her on a winery tour. It would be a whole day away from home, away from the computer, online support groups, and my quiet space to nurse my emptiness. All I had to do was sit in the car as she drove from one winery to another and we’d be served wines paired with beautiful foods. It was something Marika would have loved, and it would be magnificent, so I went. And I pretty much forgot about my grief. (I think maybe I even had fun).

I only “cheated” once. Looking over Cayuga Lake, holding a glass of Thirsty Owl dry Riesling, I was missing my daughter, so I made a silent toast to her. And blew a kiss to the clouds.

After the tour I was cranky. Taking a daylong break from grief turned out to be more exhausting than staying home grieving. Could barely eat dinner. Too tired to talk. Drove home, desperate to get to bed. Walked the dog without even reflecting on the day’s magnificent things.

And I felt guilty for spending so much time not thinking about Marika. But I know that she knows, and you know, it doesn’t mean I love her any less.


What can you do to take a break from your troubles?


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6 thoughts on “Taking a Day Off From Grief

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    Beautifully said, Robin. Grief takes endurance and so damn much patience. I know what you mean about motivation needed to get out the door. A grief vacation sounds enticing. My mother-in-law’s needs pull me into town a few times a week, bu it’s hardly enticing.I hope the wine was good.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Sometimes spending time with a mother-in-law means needing a vacation afterwards. The wine was okay. The companionship was better. The getting out and feeling like I’d accomplished something was the best. And I still have a couple of bottles of wine I bought. And I still have the memory of the lake in the fog as I sat with the glass of white wine. And I still have my heart full of Marika.

  2. gayle gray

    This is such an accurate description of the process I go through every day; so spot on and so moving. Thank you for articulating this process and may you continue to write magnificently about your loss, and in that effort bring others closer to self understanding.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      It is a process. but I’m usually grateful for the whole song-and-dance in the end. Not sure if it ever stops being a process and gets grooved into healthier attitudes, but that’s the part I keep hoping for. Thank you so much for all the compliments. The thought of helping others or “bringing others closer …” makes me smile. Cheers, Gayle.


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