Life Undone: Carrying Grief

I read a post this morning on Facebook that compared grief to a suitcase that lives at the foot of your bed. You pick it up every day, and every day, it gets a little easier to carry, but you are never without it.

Grief baggage. A potent analogy. But I think there’s more to unpack.

My initial thought is that mine is more like a collection of bags. Sometimes, it’s like a large, over-stuffed backpack — closer to my body, the straps cutting into my skin at times over my broad shoulders, but it’s more a part of my being than in the clinch of my fist. Still, it’s always there — the heavy presence of absence.

But it also can be a laptop in a computer bag, the thin, sharp strap slung across my heart and lungs. It can seize my breath like a lasso as I move, but it’s also full of curiosities and what-ifs about my late son Elliot’s forever-elusive digital footprint — containing more information than is ever possible to comprehend, access, or understand inside. Though it’s portable, the weight is significant and persistent. The contents — precious and vulnerable.

And sometimes, it’s like an overnight bag, the kind with hard sides, an adjustable handle that moves up and down, and wheels that help you pull it beside you through the airport. It’s right there with you all the damn time, and that aviation deity’s voice in the terminal is constantly reminding you . . . “never leave your bag unattended.”

The truth is you can actually move through your life with this kind of bag more easily, the mobility lightening the burden enough to allow moments of bittersweet gratitude for the person who thought of putting wheels on a suitcase. Likewise, I am grateful for the sacred grace of my dearest, gentle friends, and the angels that surround me. They are my emotional wheels — keeping me going on my unfathomable journey somehow.

And on rare occasions, you can even check your bag at a counter, but prepare to pay extra if it’s too heavy. Or you can stow it away for an hour or two in your overhead compartment. Then, you gaze out a window, allowing yourself to contemplate the stars glittering across the vast black velvet firmament, and you are surprisingly comforted by a fleeting glimpse of eternity.

7 thoughts on “Life Undone: Carrying Grief

  1. Elaine, What brilliantly real writing. Every word is beautifully perched and a clear image of loss and a gut punch. If only I could write so vividly.


  2. Agreed! Mike Shaw broncosrbest@verizon.net469-223-6813     Gallup Strengths Maximizer / Individualization / Arranger / Connectedness / Activator

  3. Elaine This post resonates with me in a very powerful way. Thank you for the strong visual imagery that accompanied your deeply profound message surrounding grief. Even though I have not had your experience., in my own way I have experienced grief that rocked me to my core.

    It makes me think of the good work that the VNA of Texas is doing around grief and supporting people who have experienced very different types of losses. I’m pretty sure you don’t need my help suggesting another way to engage with a community that you may not wanna be a part of. However I think at the very least your posts around grief – if they were to be communicated to an additional audience – well the VNA might be a resource. I think they would benefit from a collection of your writings as an additional resource in their tool kit.

    Thank you thank you Elaine this was a wonderful post.

    🦋 Mary Clutts 🦋

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