Five Minute Friday — Grief

Here’s this week’s installment of Five Minute Friday. You might remember the task is to write for five minutes on a specific prompt word, post it,  share it with others at, read the remarkable stories from other writers in the group, and encourage them.

As an extra enticement, I’ve been using testimonials about the group and the exercise from other members as collected in Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Flat, compiled by Susan Shipe. This week’s it’s short and sweet from Marianne. I encourage you to listen to the words and visit Kate and her wonderful corps of writers beginning in the Community section … and maybe be inspired to join in!

“Five Minute Fridays give the freedom to write, unedited, which allowed me to feel, uninhibited.”

The timer is set … so here goes. {clock starts now}

There is a Funky Winkerbean cartoon I saved and often looked at. It was taped to the file cabinet in my office. I prominently affixed it to the cabinet  after first seeing in shortly after Karen died. It’s long gone but I remember it, word for word, frame for frame. Les Moore {one of the main characters in the story} lost his wife to cancer and he is driving with his daughter Summer. She asks, “Dad … Do you still miss Mom?”

Next frame, Les responds, “There hasn’t been a day. But after a while, you begin to understand …” Jump to frame three. “… That you can’t let your grief become the substitute for the one you love.”

That was my emotional state following the death of Karen a dozen years ago (Happy Birthday Sweetheart, by the way). That’s why that little cartoon meant so much to me.

Grief. We’ve all experienced it or we will experience it. It is as much a part of life as being born and dying. It’s a question of how we deal with it, whether  we let the grief overpower us or empower us.

There were some pretty dark days following Karen’s death. But when I allowed the memories to push forward and take over center stage in my mind, I was able … STOP

to sort through them and recognize, although a part of my heart died with my wife, I was still here with responsibilities to family, friends, and my customers.

I’m not going to sugar coat it. I didn’t want to feel better. I was quite content wallowing in self pity. But I  had to feel better. I had to forge forward, not get stuck in the rut of the past.

One way I dealt with the grief was getting involved with others who had gone through similar experiences {a support group}. Another was reaching out to friends who also lost loved ones, not telling them how to grieve, but walking with them as they grieved. I could understand the irrationality of some of their actions because I lived similar irrational thoughts and actions. I cried with and walked with and listened to at last four close friends suddenly faced with loss. I don’t know if I helped, but I intentionally was there for them — beyond the platitudes, beyond the encouraging words — on  regular basis. I  spent many hours on the phone with them or visiting with them to just let them vent, to assure them their irrational thoughts and actions were normal, to walk with them through the valley of tears and loss, to assure them they had a purpose — a new purpose perhaps — to go on.

I was able to pay it forward because I had such an angel in my life, Sonni. She refocused me. She lectured me when needed. She refused to let me walk through this new season of life alone. She decided, as a seasoned widow, she was going to take me under her wing to try and help me avoid the traps of widowhood. She was the salve that helped heal a broken heart — not repair it, not fill it, not replace it. She paid it forward.

I still have my days — sometimes weeks or months — when I feel the grief swelling in my heart and soul. You never know when it is going to hit, what triggers those feelings. But I reach back and replay her counsel. I refocus on me. I look around at all the beauty in the world, from the ragweed to the roses, from sunrise to sunset, from the order of nature to the chaos in nature. I celebrate my family and friends.

God sends people into our lives. I know He did for me. And I hope I can be that person for others.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Life’s too short to be shoehorned into a box that isn’t for you. — Lauren Mayberry


About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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19 Responses to Five Minute Friday — Grief

  1. Hopeful50 says:

    Joe, that was lovely. #7


  2. Grief is so easy to get lost in and to be honest somedays i just wanted to stay lost. Yet I know that my daughter would be so cross at me if I did, she taught me that life was for living. So every day I try and live it and although I miss her desperately I do feel joy and I give thanks for that.


  3. Loretta says:

    What a heart felt post. Beautiful Visiting from fmf #2


  4. Astrid says:

    It’s so easy to get lost in grief indeed. I seem to experience death-related grief differently from most people, in that it’s so far always been a gradual process of goodbyes when the person was still living and as a result I didn’t feel very sad when they were gone. That being said, I get lost in the should-have-beens of my own life. I love your encouragement. FMF #24.


  5. Joe, Barb’s and my hearts goes out to you.

    This is for you, with all the love our hearts can hold.

    It can be real hard to admit
    in life’s feel-good endeavour
    that, at times, you want to quit,
    and broken feels forever.
    The shattered heart becomes a clif
    that simply can’t be climbed,
    and there is no “Just wait, what if..?”;
    not now, no, not this time.
    And when the darkest darkest night
    seems never to be through,
    there is One who brings a light,
    and Who will sit with you
    if you slide over, give Him space
    to weep with you, and offer grace.


  6. Tara says:

    It’s hard, but I think grief groups are good support for those grieving. I’m glad you had that


    • I agree. Interesting story. There was a group in town but I refused to go because I knew everybody and [pride] didn’t want to expose my vulnerabilities with people I knew and worked with. So I chose a group in the next county about


    • … 35 miles away. Half the group was from Seneca County. Facilitator let us be us. Cried with us and ultimately laughed with us. Allowed us to work through the process. Biggest takeaway wad the realization my death watch was relatively short and I had a chance to say goodbye.


  7. Sandra K Stein says:

    Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.
    P.S. Love the third frame of your cartoon–“…you can’t let your grief become the substitute for the one you love.” Wise words.
    (visiting from #30)


  8. TamrahJo says:

    ❤ and hugs sent your way.


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