What Grief Looks Like

Recently I got a glimpse at what grief looks like,
through the lens of one of my 8th-grade friends.

I was on my way to the Post Office with the last of our thank-you notes when I got the idea to stop by to see Pierce and his family. I'd walked Pierce, who lost his younger brother four years ago, through his grief and loss and I was eager to reconnect, to meet his puppy, to sit for a spell, and to normalize what I'm going through as I grieve the death of my brother.

While I was there, Pierce's dog Cooper jumped up on my lap and started to love on me. As if he knew. Knew that my heart is heavy and hurting. 
Knew that there are moments when I am struggling to breathe. 
Knew that my life changed so drastically in the blink of an eye.

Comic credit: Dave Coverly

Pierce's message to me was that the grief probably wasn't ever going to go away, but that I could use it to propel my purpose and passion. 
Then he added, "When you're ready." His grief taught him that.

And while I was enjoying my Cooper blanket, Pierce snapped that shot.
That picture-perfect shot of what grief looks like.

So what exactly does grief look like?

For me, it looks like confusion.
And uncomfortable feelings.
And a lot of chaos and fog.

The words grief coma tend to describe it well.

This afternoon, it looked like tears at the DPS,
when I was trying to renew my license.
The attendant was so uncomfortable when I
told her I was sad because my brother died that
she messed up the picture and had to take it twice.

Yesterday, it looked like protest when I found out
that the retreat center I'm speaking at next week
requires a negative Covid test. I felt overwhelmed
and I didn't want that crazy inconvenience. Gah.

The day before that, it looked like gratitude,
when a friend texted to ask me this:
How do you like for people to support you?
That's such a sensitive inquiry.

More gratitude for the Panera gift card from a friend in Ohio, for a meal and visit from my friend and one of Joshua's former teachers, and for a succulent plant from a colleague and friend at school. 

Before that, it looked like a compassionate reconnection with a friend who flew in from out of town to sit with me, to breathe with me, to listen to me, to laugh and cry with me. To tell me that it's going to be okay.

With my emotions all over the place,
I keep going to gratitude to help me
process my loss and find moments of peace.

Music has really helped me, so here's my Good-Grief playlist.

This last one starts with the words make a mark.
My brother's name is was Mark.
And more tears start to silently fall.

I'm so grateful for the friends who are willing
to walk this messy grief journey so that 
I don't have to do grief alone. Ever. No matter what. 
Even when my DPS attendant doesn't fully understand 
that I'm okay with the picture on my driver's license 
showing exactly what grief looks like on me.


  1. Every time I hear Scars in Heaven on Klove I think of Mipps - and say a prayer for you. God brings you to my thoughts often in this way. Love you.

  2. I had no place reaching into your grief but I was hoping if I come to this link I keep on my Mac that you would have done what you do. Speak truth and realness. Thank you for sharing here the pain I know your family is going through. Nancy and Barbara Gruener, two woman I have known of for years and years, two woman who are amazing and cherished. Prayers for these hard days ahead, and for those that have already swallowed you whole. From a grief sister. xoxox


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!