many shades of grief

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Dec 172013

As I come up to the second anniversary of Nancy’s passing, I’ve become quite still inside. Last year, I was reliving the final two months of her life, a horrific journey through intensive care. I’m doing that again, but very differently now. I have a new life, am entering into partnership with Jen, and look forward more than backward. Watching my own transformation, I now have the luxury of asking myself, “How are others dealing with this kind of loss?”

I follow some members of the special club of widows and parents who have lost children. It is indeed an initiation. If you haven’t had this kind of loss, you don’t know.Trust me, I’ve lost several parents, been through divorce…these are great losses, and tear a hole in your heart. But this club is different. It’s kind of the difference between amputation and having a part of your body ripped out of you.

It’s incredible what we do. I’m into a daily Tibetan buddhist practice, and that would have never happened before Nancy’s passing.

The thing to notice is, we’re direct. Our partner or child is gone, and there is nothing worse we can imagine that life offers us. If you want the truth, talk to a widow, or someone who’s lost a child. We will tell you.

So, here are some of the folks. Their responses to grief go in three directions, with considerable overlap.

A few months after Nancy died, I posted an answer to answering a question about losing your spouse. A young Icelandic chef named Jonas Luster contacted me almost immediately, and we spent four hours on the phone one night. I treasure that evening. He had much wisdom and some delightful stories to offer, he lost his wife two years before I did, and has a young son to care for. This man has led an amazingly intense and varied life since his loss. Some details are on his google+ profile…but his blog is not available due to technical issues at the moment. A bit of a window is available at We shall see if any of his rich journey can be seen on the internet again. My observation is that he was softer two years ago than he is now. His postings are often quite sarcastic.


As a longtime BMW motorcyclist, I’m connected to several major websites, and recently got pointed to Ara is an avid biker I’ve never met, who lost his 26-year-old son in 2004. I have no idea of the details. I have no idea what happened to his wife/the son’s mother. But he writes in a wonderfully clean and transparent way, and how can you not love a brindle pit bull with a helmet that says “Bite Me”? He apparently went off on a seven-year journey with his dog, on a very cool BMW motorcycle sidecar rig, and his evolution is right there on his web site. For example , see If ever there was a solitary journey of grieving, this is it.


And then there is Laura Silverman, author of An awesome writer about sensory pleasure, she posts every few days and I follow every word. There are recipes, observations about food, seasons, beekeeping, drinks, health, and a dozen other topics in her blogging. I love how she has clearly allowed her loss to open her to beauty and joy in all forms, how she seems to live with an intensity and presence that feels familiar to me. Life is short, and every moment is an opportunity not to be wasted.

If only we could land in this awareness without massive loss. I’m drinking fresh-ground Kona coffee as I finish this, remembering yet again how delightful it is to be born into a human body.