Category Archives: Grief

Old Diary Entry: Tears of Gold

"Freya" (1901) by Johannes Gehrts. T...

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I wrote the following entry and posted it to Bloopdiary (when I was still there) on 19 August 2005, when I was still processing through my breakup with Mike, who I had been with for four years.  I recently mentioned this entry to someone else and realized I no longer had a copy online.  So now it’s online again.  Enjoy!

As I’m getting settled into my new apartment and finding ways to establish myself in Rochester, I find myself realizing just how little I think of Mike. In some ways, I find myself in that strange state where it just doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve cried my tears, and while I feel the slight ache of being alone once again (and not getting any younger), I have a strange peace about having lost him.

It was a rough journey getting here. I found myself emotionally distraught about the whole thing. I cried so many tears. To be honest, I never realized I could cry so much over the end of a relationship when I was the person to end it. But there you have it. And I think I learned a lot about it. I came to understand one of Freyja’s myths a bit better.

When Freyja lost Od, she cried tears of gold. Indeed, according to Snorri, this is why “Freyja’s tears” became a kenning for gold. I always found the fact that her tears were gold a mild curiosity. Now I see it as an incredibly profound mystery. And I have a much greater appreciation for the value of grief. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say that true grief is a sacred act in its own right. Hence the tears of gold.

I wanted to quit being sad over the breakup. I kept wanting to “move on already.” I didn’t want to shed any more tears. I was “wasting time.” But no, the tears, the sadness, the grief kept coming. And my sweet Lady kept telling me, “No, you need this. Cry your tears. They’re my golden tears.” So I did the only thing I could do, I cried, and I explored my grief.

Then I realized why I cried so much. I was experience true grief, the kind that only comes when one loves so freely and without reservation, only to lose that love. In effect, I wept bitterly because I loved fully. And there is a certain beauty in that.

You see, I think that’s the mistake we too often make. We’re too afraid of that kind of grief, so we avoid being so vulnerable. We only love grudgingly, often holding back and never truly letting go. We do that because we think that sense of grief is bad and to be avoided.

After the past couple months, I’ve come to a different way of thinking. As painful as such sorrow and grief may be, it is in its own way a celebration. My tears were bitter, but they were born of my precious love. I came to understand that as I cherished my love, I could cherish my grief which came as a result of it. In that view, they became bittersweet, and I could see how they really were tears of gold.

I’m not sure many people would understand that. But that’s okay. I guess it’s one of those things you have to experience and come to understand yourself. Me explaining it just won’t do. But for those who do understand, I can just imagine their reaction to reading this.


The Voice of a broken heart

Image by WolfS?ul via Flickr

I love you and I miss you. But I’m also hurt.

I understand
you’re in a difficult position. I understand that it’s frightening for
you. And I understand why you’ve made the choices you did. My heart
breaks for you that you were ever in a position that you had to face
such choices.

But you were in that position, and you made those
choices. What’s more, you made many choices that helped to leave us in
the situation we now find ourselves in. And I feel like you chose to
ignore that fact, and instead place responsibility entirely on those
around you — including me — instead of accepting your fair share of
that responsibility.

Please understand, I’m not saying it’s all
your fault, either. We both made choices, and not all of mine were the
wisest or best choices I could have made. And others have contributed
as well. There’s plenty of “blame” to go around. But it hurts that you
seem to want me to shoulder your responsibility — or at least part of
it — in addition to my own.

In some ways, I wonder if I made a
mistake in trying to make things easier for you. I sometimes steered
clear of bringing up the consequences of your choices or the painful
decisions that you might have had. I find myself wondering if in doing
so, I merely encouraged you to continue denying your own
responsibility. If so, then I suspect I did both of us a great

So I’m hurt right now. But I still love you, and I still miss you. I think that makes the pain all the more acute.

I Miss You

The Voice of a broken heart

Image by WolfS?ul via Flickr

I miss you.

miss our talks. I miss your requests, even though they were often more
like demands than actual requests. I miss the way you’d get excited
about something and become completely consumed with a thought or idea
that struck your fancy.

I miss how you could be tender and
loving so much of the time. I miss how you yearned for both physical
and emotional intimacy, and I cringe at the thought that we may never
share that intimacy again.

Some people want to think it was just
about sex. I know the reasons they think that, but they’re wrong. It
was never about the sex. Yes, the sex was nice and I’ll miss that too,
but sex alone does not make a relationship.

Besides, let me be
honest. If I was just interested in sex, there are far easier avenues I
could pursue to get it. I could get a room at the spa if I just wanted
sex. I could hang out at the Home Depot if I just wanted sex. I could
have answered ads on craigslist if I just wanted sex.

the complications, limitations, and risks of our relationship would
have been way too much foolish effort if I had merely been in it for
the sex. I’m amazed at anyone who can’t see the truth of that statement.

the memories of moments spent lying next together and talking that are
most powerful. It’s the memories of hopping into the shower and
lovingly washing each other’s bodies that make me ache for more such
tenderness. It’s the memories of your smile as you tell me about every
little detail of your life that fill me with wistfulness. The thought
that I may never have any more of these experiences with you is what
tears at my heart so much.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope that some
day we might beat the odds so that we can be together gain. I hoe that
some day we might again share such moments of tender joy together.

But for now, I miss you.

Someone I care deeply about is grieving.

Massachusetts, USA

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Someone I care deeply about has lost someone he cares deeply about today.  Please keep him in your thoughts as he grieves.  If you’re the praying type, please pray for him.  I don’t usually tell people how they should pray, but if you would indulge me, I’d like to offer these suggestions:

Pray that he has the courage to grieve and grieve fully.

Pray that he feels safe enough to grieve.

Pray that if he needs to cry, he finds a time and place where he can allow himself to cry.

Pray that if he needs to shout, he finds a time and place where he can allow himself to shout.

Pray that if he needs to ask the hard questions, he finds a time, a place, and the sense that he can safely ask the hard questions.

Pray not that his grieving will be cut short or sped up, but that he may go through the process fully and properly.

And pray that in it all, he remembers that we grieve because we have first loved.  And let the memory of that love inject some sweetness in the often painful grieving process.

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In Memory of a Stubborn Old Coot

Snow-covered TombstoneThis morning, my father called to let me know that his plans had changed suddenly, so he would not be coming to Rochester today. He also let me know that the reason that his plans had changed because our old pony, Saddle, died in the middle of the night. So Dad has to see to that today.

While I’m sad to hear that Saddle has passed beyond the veil, I am not surprised by the news. We all knew that it was merely a matter of time. Saddle would have turned thirty seven in the next month or so, which means that he lived roughly a decade beyond the normal life expectancy for his breed. Indeed, I remember back in the summer of 1997 when Dad was building Saddle’s new pasture at the new house. Dad commented on more than one occasion that he was putting a lot of effort into building fence for a horse that probably wouldn’t make it through the coming winter. But the following Spring, the old codger (Saddle, not Dad) was running and kicking as if he were still a young colt. (Come to think of it, Dad’s still pretty spry, too.)

Dad went through that same process for the two or three summers after that, each time he went out to mend fence. After the last time, he simply decided that Saddle was going to stick around and said nothing more. We all knew that our little pony wouldn’t be with us forever, but we decided to quit expecting the inevitable. And as if out of kindness, the inevitable stayed away for several more years.

I vaguely remember when we purchased Saddle (actually, we purchased him back, as he was originally born on my parents’ property back when they used to keep multiple horses, but they eventually sold them all when they started a family) when I was about five years old. I learned to ride horse (both bareback and with a saddle) on him. Saddle was a stubborn old coot, and I learned quickly how to handle a horse who didn’t want to do the things I wanted him to do. I also learned how to duck the low hanging branches that Saddle would sometimes walk under as I rode him. (I could have made him go around, but that would’ve spoiled the fun.) I also remember when Saddle bucked my sister and I off when I was between the ages of five and seven. Both of us had wanted to ride him that day, so my father decided to have us ride double as he led Saddle. The old pony decided that was too much to ask for and bucked. I don’t think my sister ever rode him after that. I didn’t give up, though.

Rest in peace, old horse. You will be missed. But I’m sure I’ll see you again someday.

(Special thanks to Petr Kratochvil for releasing a public domain source for the image in this post.)

This one’s for Tracie


Long-time blog friend Tracie made the hard decision to put down her beloved Bean (pictured to the left). This gorgeous furbaby had been struggling with advanced cancer for a while, and the time had come to grant her peace from her suffering. At this time, I’d like to offer Tracie my deepest condolences along with a few words.

I’m going to try my best (though I’m not sure how good my best will ultimately be) to avoid platitudes, such as how Bean is in a better place (which I definitely believe) or how even death is the part of a master plan we don’t understand (which I might believe up to a point). Instead, I want to say something else to you, Tracie.

It sucks. I know you’re hurting and missing your darling little Bean. If I was in your position, I’d feel the same way. I’d probably bawl my eyes out more than once today and over the next several days. So girl, you go right ahead and do that. You both need and deserve to do it. And the gods know, Bean deserves that kind of love.

And ultimately, that’s what we’re talking about. The reason this sucks so bad is that you loved her and she loved you. You shared a bond and countless precious moments. She was a precious part of your life that you cherished for many years and you will continue to cherish. The loss of that bond — the loss of the chance to experience new precious moments with your darling Bean — is worthy of much sorrow. Such love must be mourned. So give yourself the freedom to do so. It’s just another way of cherishing the love the two of you shared.

I hope that you find a way to express your sorrow, cherish your memories, and find the sweetness in it all.

My thoughts are with you, my friend.

Remembering a family man from my past

In an entry on Mutiply, I talked about my perspective changed in regards to getting involved with a guy who has kids. It seems proper to note that while I’ve only become fully aware of this change, the actual change process has been a long time in the works. In fact, I can trace its beginnings back as early as 2001.

Back in 2001, I met Mike, who I ended up dating for four years. Mike didn’t have any children of his own, but was fiercely devoted two his sister’s two sons, especially David, who was in his mid teens at the time. In fact, he was so devoted to them, you would’ve thought they were his own kids.

Again, this level of devotion was very attractive for me, for all of the same reasons I mentioned in the previous post. And there was the fact that Mike was devoted and close to his family in general, including his mother. (To be honest, he struck me as something of a “momma’s boy” at times.) That in itself was also an attractive quality. I myself have always been close to my family, so it was nice to see that reflected in the person I was with. Of course, I also think that it was a bit of a comfort to me, as my family was becoming more distant at the time, too. So it was nice to be reminded that such closeness could still last, even if not in my family. (Fortunately, things are on the mend in my own family now.)

Of course, in the end, Mike’s closeness with his family contributed significantly to the end of our relationship. This is mainly because in the four years we dated, Mike never reached the point where he was comfortable coming out to his family. This meant that he spent that entire time leading a double life, keeping our relationship safely separated from his relationship with his parents, sister, and nephews. This also meant that when his time was limited, that time was usually spent with his family rather than me. After a while, that simply became unacceptable to me. Along with other issues, I finally confronted him and ended our relationship when he admitted he was unwilling to do anything to resolve these issues.

In retrospect, I don’t hold Mike’s devotion to his family against him, even if it did contribute to the end of our relationship. To this day, I consider that a positive quality and something I’d still find attractive. However, I do take issue with his unwillingness to integrate his devotion to me and his devotion to his family, because his failure to do so was the real problem. To this day, that fact is something of a sore spot in my life, though I’ve mostly made my peace.

Through the grapevine, I’ve come to understand that Mike’s gone back to dating girls, and has been with the same girl for at least a year now. I guess things are going quite well, at least from what I can gain from indirect sources. When I first found out about this, I was deeply hurt. In fact, I won’t say I don’t still feel a twinge of pain over it now. However, I’ve come to be more accepting of his choices, and I hpoe he can truly find happiness with this woman. After all, I don’t think he’d ever find happiness with me or any other guy. Because it’s become clear to me that he could never make that choice that would ultimately be necessary. So I hope he can find happiness in the choices he has made.

I know I have. And to be honest, I’m starting to realize that my new choices since breaking up with him have offered me more chances for happiness than I ever would’ve had with him. (I just hope that doesn’t sound too cruel.)

It’s never easy

Saying goodbye to a friendship is never easy. However, I think it’s hardest when neither of you really want to say goodbye, yet know you have to. That’s the situation I’ve found myself in this week, and it’s quite possibly the most painful experience I’ve ever had. And let me just say that coming from someone who was on the brink of suicide twice in his life and even allowed other people to convince him that he was evil incarnate for about a week, that’s saying quite a lot.

It would be so much easier if either of us had done something malicious to the other. It would be easier if there had just been a fight, an argument over some sense of having been wronged. But there wasn’t any such thing. Instead, life has simply gotten in the way, and we can’t be there for each other right now. What’s worse, there’s no real guarantee of when that will change — or even that it ever will. That’s left one of us feeling hurt and the other feeling rather guilty. A bad situation all around.

So for now, we’ve said our goodbyes. They may be temporary, or they may be permanent. For now, I’m inclined to treat them as though they are permanent, simply because it’ll make the healing process easier, I think. There won’t be that temptation to go into denial about the whole thing and wait for something that may not come. If it comes — and I hope it does — it will be great. But in the meantime, there’s work to be done. So I’ll shed my tears and grieve so that I can get on with it as well as I can.

Stronger than I thought

In a previous post, I mentioned briefly that I was going on a coffee date. I haven’t said much more about the experience, which was good, or the subsequent dates I had, which were also good. Originally, I didn’t want to right much, as I felt it was more appropriate to see how things went before getting too talkative about it. And then as things progressed, I felt that I needed to spend some time with the young man I was dating talking about everything. It was important to talk to him long before I talked about him or our experiences together.

Unfortunately, things did not work out between us as I had originally hoped. This was particularly complicated by the fact that each of us made some rash choices about our time together, resulting in a lot of hurt for both of us. We’ve spent a fair amount of time over the past several days talking about what happened, how we each felt, and just life in general. The end result is that we’ve decided to just be friends, and I’m very hopeful we end up developing a strong, lasting friendship as a result.

As I sit here and think about the past week and the future, I find myself experiencing a myriad of emotions. I’d say that chief among those emotions is disappointment and a bit of longing. To be honest, making the choice of not pursuing the relationship in favor of developing a friendship was not an easy one to make. There’s a part of me that longs for more, no matter how strongly I know that this is the right choice. Indeed, I found myself wondering how I’d feel when I saw him again. I found myself doubtful of whether I could spend time with him without it tearing me up inside.

I’m both pleased and relieved to say that those doubts were unfounded. Recently, I had the opportunity to spend four hours with him. And while I won’t deny that there was the occasional pang during our time together, it was well worth it. Conversation simply flowed. Not the kind of superficial conversation that feels mechanical or forced, but deep and honest communication. We shared an openness with one another that was beautiful and precious. And I have to admit that I find myself looking forward to another experience like that.

As I’ve thought about our recent time together, I found myself asking the same question again and again: When did I get this strong? How did I get this strong? I remember being the person who would fall completely apart at the first sign of emotional let-down and take weeks, months, or even years to recover. And here I am today, fresh from a breakup, ready to take it all in stride. I’m even looking forward to a friendship, despite the fact that part of me would still like more than friendship. And ultimately, I don’t feel it’s that big of a deal. And in many ways, that truly astonishes me. Because I don’t remember becoming the kind of person who could feel that way.

Remembering loved ones a bit late

As I mentioned in my previous entry, my family suffered a tragedy during the time that my blog was offline. During the early afternoon of December 31, 2006, my Aunt Betty and Uncle Fred were killed in an automobile accident just a few miles from their home in Virginia. The Washington Post has an article which describes the details of the accident fairly well. Since the article was written, I believe that the two surviving victims of the collision (the driver of the van and her 5 year old daughter) have been released from the hospital. The woman, however, did lose a leg.

The whole experience was indescribable. My family first found out about the accident that afternoon when my father’s sister, Jennifer, called from York. Apparently, Uncle Fred’s daughter, Faith, called her. When Aunt Jennifer got through, she was hysterical. In fact, my mother had to ask her a couple of times who was calling because she couldn’t recognize Aunt Jennifer’s voice. During that call, we found out that Aunt Betty had died, but Uncle Fred’s status was still unknown. Aunt Jennifer called back about an hour later with the rest of the bad news.

Much of the rest of the night was spent relaying details to other members in my father’s family, as well as fielding calls from concerned friends who wanted to offer their condolences. we did manage to keep our standard New Year’s Eve tradition of getting friends and family together to play cards and eat snacks. And a good time was had by all, even with the underlying sadness and frequent phone interruptions.

One of the things that really struck me was how various people in my family chose to deal with the grieving process. Most notable was my aunt, Marlene, who went into overdrive in her role as the unofficial family historian. She spent much of Sunday and Monday trying to get as much information about Uncle Fred and Aunt Betty and their lives (including the details of Uncle Fred’s military service) and writing it all down. You’d have sworn that if she didn’t get it all in order right then, the information would be lost forever. But it kept her busy and allowed her to keep them alive in her heart and honor them in her own way.

To be honest, I’m not sure how I’ve dealt with this loss. I think that writing this blog entry is my way of grieving, in many ways. After all, the best way I can honor my aunt and uncle is to share them with the rest of the world. I just wish I had more memories to share.

One thing that I found surprising is how much it bothered me to not be able to attend the funeral services. Due to being out of work so much, I felt I couldn’t afford to give up the hours I was scheduled to work last week. And as the funeral was down in Virginia, I would’ve had to called off the entire week. And while my boss certainly would have understood if I chose to do so, I doubt my debtors would’ve been so understanding when I had no money to pay them.

Normally, I don’t think much of funeral services. I think they’re horribly long and dreadfully dull. And I certainly don’t think I get a lot out of them, personally. I’d rather take care of my own grieving and even my own goodbyes (as when I visited my grandfather’s grave the weekend after his funeral) more privately. But I realize now that the one thing I do like about attending funerals of loved ones is the communal aspect. While it may not be how I express my grief best, I do like being with my loved ones as they grieve, too.

Uncle Fred and Aunt Betty, you will be missed. May your souls find peace and comfort until they return to this world anew.