A Lot of Grief and A Little Hope

“What is a grief journal? It’s a journal where you’re free to write exactly what you’re feeling. You can share memories, feelings, anger, or just daily ramblings. As long as you’re writing, you’re getting those emotions on the page.”

Sam Tetrault

Ultimately, writing is healing. Deep within writing about grief is hope. Grief becomes healing and heling transforms into hope. I’ve found it is a long process.

I think everyone personalizes how they use a grief journal because grief is so personal. It isn’t supposed to be a happy place. I think almost every time I wrote in mine I cried. At some point, the tears lessened. I could read what I wrote and reflect on it without tears.

A working definition isn’t too important to me. My sister and I took a grief class the summer after our mom died the previous spring. I think the grief journal was born there. It appeals to my writing side.

These are snippets from my grief journal. If they don’t fit your definition, you do you.

Many of my entries at the beginning look the same.

7/24/13

Dear Sweet Mom,

I love you and miss you. It’s still too hard for me to put all my feelings down on paper.

Love, Kristie xoxo

Gradually, the notes took on more of a conversational tone. It was like I was writing a letter to Mom. Grief was still present, but it was slowly being replaced by normal life and small doses of hope. If I couldn’t speak to her, this was the next best thing. Somehow I expected the words to lift off the page and swirl the night stars until they reached he in heaven.

8/23/13

Dear Sweet Mom,

I brought in a few of the tomatoes the other day and ate the first one as part of a caprese salad. It tasted good and I so wish you could have had some. Thank you for getting me going on tomatoes and teaching me all about them.

I made rhubarb crunch today too. Very good. I ate a piece for you.

Love, Kristie xoxo

3/18/14

Dear Sweet Mom,

I’m feeling sad and empty tonight. Just keep picturing you at Oak Park this time last year, knowing how hard things were getting for you, and how I was losing you more each day. The next month is going to be rough on both of us. I’m remembering the sad and bad times a lot. I was to replace those images and memories with all the happy ones, but I’m not very successful.  Maybe I’ll try to think of some good Door County memories.

Love, Kristie xoxo

4/30/14

Dear Sweet Mom,

It’s been a year. I just can’t believe it and I don’t know what it all means. It doesn’t make me any less sad or you any less gone. All it means is al the firsts for the first year are over.

Last night I dreamed you called me on the phone. After I picked up and said, “Hello,” you said, “Kristie, it’s Mom.” Your voice was clear as a bell. It startled me out of sleep. Unfortunately, that dream was over and I couldn’t get back to sleep. What does it mean? I will keep looking for signs.

Love,

Kristie xoxo

The last time I wrote in it was 7/28/16. Entries became father and farther apart. Focusing on the grief wasn’t what I needed. I had hope that life was returning to something more normal.

The intersection of grief and hope is hard to explain. Grief doesn’t have to disappear. We all have those moments where it shows up unexpectedly. Hope still floats around this atmosphere waiting for the grief to settle so you can reclaim a bit of that needed hope.

I believe we are not given grief without a way to work with it. Hope is how we work with some of the grief we feel. Not all of it. Sometimes the only way to get through something is to go through it and experience it, tears and fears and all. Other times those pieces of hope are enough to cling to in tough moments.

Poetry is another way to combine grief and hope. This poem is dedicated to my friend Lori Burwell who transitioned suddenly on October 7, 2021.

For Lori

Through grief comes hope.

Through the tears,

Through our fears,

Through breaking hearts

That are tearing us apart

And through the pain.

We know we’ll never be the same.

.

We hope.

We try to cope.

We hope our loved one still sees us

And knows what we are doing.

We hope they are at peace.

We hope our grief will cease.

We hope heaven is real.

.

It’s strange that grief and hope

Share a bond.

Grief comes first.

It lasts and it hurts

Like a bruise that never heals.

Where is the hope?

.

Eventually, the black and blue heals.

Eventually, we begin to feel

And hope replaces grief.

This is my belief.

I hold space for you.

I’m holding space for both of us.

.

Our memories gather round that hope.

We walk through our days as we cope.

We want to touch it

And feel it in our hearts.

If we’re lucky we do.

.

There will always be grief

That returns without warning.

There also will always be

A song of hope

Just waiting to fill our hearts.

.

So much despair

She was not done.

It’s so unfair.

From it we hide and run.

Grief still finds us.

What can we do?

.

The sun still shines.

We advocate, we donate, we hope.

We soothe our souls with

Thoughts of the Divine.

.

Lori lives with the Divine.

Rest without cancer and pain.

Rest in happiness.

Rest in love my friend

Until we meet again.

.

.

.

****************************

What are your thoughts about grief?

Author: Kristie Konsoer

I've been living well with metastatic breast cancer since 2012. This blog is a place where I can share thoughts and ideas on cancer, how I feel perceptions of cancer must change, and how I am finding a way to live with strength, hope, meaning, resiliency, humor, and hopefully a little wisdom.

9 thoughts on “A Lot of Grief and A Little Hope”

  1. Thank you for this post, Kristie. Having just lost my Dad in July this year, and three dear friends earlier in the year (my two best friends within 2 days of each other), I can’t help wondering if a grief journal might help me to grieve. It’s like I’m numbed by so much loss in one year. I’ve shed very few tears. My condolences for the recent loss of your friend. Your poem expressed both your sadness and your hope. It’s beautiful. Big hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What I like about the grief journal is it’s so personal. It really helped me connect with my mom. I needed it for three years and then oddly something happened (not sure what) where I haven’t written in it again. Maybe someday. I’m so very sorry about your dad and friends. Hugs to you.💕

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Kristie,

    I love this connection you make between grief and hope. I need to reflect on this a bit more. I’ve kept many journals, but never a grief journal per se. I like that idea too. And the poem you wrote upon Lori’s death is beautiful. Still can’t believe she’s gone. But #wewillnotforget. Keep writing. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Nancy. Grief is such a strong feeling that it’s tough to believe anything else is there when it’s stripped away. I keep thinking about grief and hope, too. Lots to think about. 💕

      Like

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