Blog post

Grief On Demand

February 13, 2018

I write about grief. Not all the time, of course, but regularly scheduled. Grief on demand is difficult. It forces me to bring forward things that now, seven years after my Luke was stillborn, have been pushed to the hidden places of my mind – never forgotten, but displaced by the mundane and unrelenting beauty that is my everyday life. I do this to myself each month, willingly, but not easily.

Related: When Writing About Grief Isn’t Enough

Some months it is more formidable than others. I sit with my notebook, either the electronic or paper kind, and I stare at the blankness wondering what I can say, how I can help. Have I exhausted this part of me, the part that bled onto the paper as my only relief? And then I remember the person I was, and I remember that for almost six years, I did not bleed onto the paper. I let others do that for me. I groped for words in the books and writings of others who had experienced loss when I could not find a way to put in black and white the words, “My baby died.”

I turned to books because that is who I am, and that is what I do. Sometimes I saw myself and my despair in their pages, which offered an odd kind of comfort; other times I found them unfulfilling and insufficient to what I was feeling, leaving with a sense that no one could understand, that no one had ever felt this way before. In a way, I was right. Grief is so ordinary and so remarkable. It is universal and unique. My grief was my own. The authors of the books I read had their own experiences of loss and heartache and emptiness. But the extraordinary ordinariness of my sadness and the uncommon community that is bereavement allowed me to see that I was not alone.

Related: The Healing Power of Writing

So today I grieve on demand, on a regularly scheduled basis. Because I needed a channel for stories of loss and survival and hope for a future that was not defined by death. It is my turn to be the conduit in which those stories come to readers. To you. You are worth my grief. My son is, too. Reading the words of others did not fix me. My words will not fix you. I will mourn with you, and rage, and break. But I will fail you because your grief Is singular, and my companionship will not send it to oblivion. I tell my story so that you know the pain will change and shift and morph into something that is not everywhere, all the time. And I will thank you for reminding me that it is still there, that he is still there, and my heart will break wide open with love.

Photo by Mikhail Pavstyuk on Unsplash

  • Kristen Wood

    Kristen Wood is a mother of six, including her son, Luke, who was stillborn on Christmas Eve of 2010. She is also a writer, a reader, a student, and an aspiring librarian. She desperately needed hope after the loss of her son, and she wants to offer that to others through her words. She can be found on her Facebook author page,

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