No reader would long survive trapped inside the covers of my personal journal, a veritable amusement park ride of twisting emotional turns, a fun-house maze of distorted reasoning. But within the craziness one finds the occasional nugget, like a heartfelt prayer rising from a roller coaster or a burst of joyful laughter floating down from a Ferris wheel.

Last winter I shared “A Fourteen-Sentence Glimpse Into My Journal,” which was surprisingly popular. Maybe it was the brevity that attracted readers, I don’t know. At any rate, I think this is a good time for a reprise. What better way to illustrate the bumpy ups and downs of the grieving process than through random snippets and sentences?

The Ups and Downs

March 11

When you have a brother and then you don’t, life is completely different – not the things you do, so much, but who you are. Coming up on twelve weeks in this new world.

March 12

One of the gifts that makes life livable is spending time with J(my nephew) and his kids. While there’s a sadness to it as there is with everything – all the times I think about telling Biff a funny or endearing thing that one of the kids said – that sadness was there before he died, too. It always hurt my heart that Biff could not bring himself to get well and participate in the family. How he would have loved being Great Uncle Biff!

March 13

What a wonderful couple of days we’ve had here at Edisto Island. Playing on the beach, collecting shells, going for walks, watching movies, reading Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men each night before the kids go to bed. J is as good at voices as Biff was, and we laugh uproariously.

Reasons for Living

Reasons for Living



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March 14

Are you kidding?? More snow?! I am in such a bad mood. I’ve been crying all afternoon since coming in from the airport. Turns out that Biff is still dead. I’m angry at him for the fatal choices he made, angry at God.

March 15

I feel like eating a lot, drinking much wine, watching a movie. I should go to support group, but I want to isolate. This place sucks. More snow coming Monday night – noooo! I want to turn around and go back to South Carolina. I can’t bear to think about cleaning out Mom’s house. Oh God.

March 17

I have decided to “take the day off,” as Biff often said. I always thought but never said to him, “Off from what? You never do anything anyway; you barely get out of bed.” Now I get it. A day off from feeling like you *should* be doing something. To do whatever strikes the fancy, which may well be nothing. I’m going to start the day with my centering prayer practice.

March 18

From the pages of a grief book: “pay attention to the small nudges, some simple thing I might enjoy doing today, some minor project that might seem worthwhile . . . This is no time to be figuring out one’s Lifework. This is a time to follow up on small urgings – anything to establish ourselves as people who can take the initiative.”

There – just the thing. I turned on the classical music station and am making some lentil barley soup full of healthy veggies. I wrote some short poems. It’s a relief that I don’t have to figure out my “Lifework” right now – sometimes I feel that since the crisis is over and I’m no longer responsible for anyone else’s well-being, I must immediately figure out my next (last?) twenty years.

March 19

I think I tend to leap ahead, to try to get beyond all this. Like, if I hire someone to clean out Mom’s house, I can just turn my back and go cross-country. But Biff would still be dead. And there are some things in the house I would like; it’s my family home, after all.

March 20

I’m feeling a bit better. Writing helps, as does meditative prayer. Plus, I’ve given myself permission to start saying no to things in order to create some space for myself. That’s hard for me, but I’ve got to take care of myself and do what feels right for me. Difficult as it is for me to believe, people can get along without me from time to time.

March 22

As frivolous as it feels with all that I have to do for the family estates, I’ve decided to paint my bathroom: purple. I bought a gallon of rich, regal purple for the walls and some rosy magenta for the woodwork. My house is so messy I can barely get through the front door, I haven’t even put away the Christmas paraphernalia, and I’m painting my bathroom purple. Yay!

March 24

Feeling lots better. It’s been a rough spell, but I seem to be getting my feet back under me. The sun is shining and the birds are singing, although it’s in the thirties and it’s going to snow again tomorrow. Little accumulation predicted, thank God!

dear god chalk

Thank you God Photo Credit: Huffington Post