Universal Sadness

It’s funny how the universe tosses things to you in lumps, almost as if somewhere, someone is saying ‘the theme for this week is going to be…’.

Sometimes it’s things like dishwashers. You know – you make the mistake of pricing a dishwasher online and suddenly all your feeds are filled with ads for dishwashers. And every delivery truck you pass on the road is carrying boxes of dishwashers. You see them everywhere for a week or so and then they’re gone, as if people quit buying dishwashers.

It’s like that when you’ve lost someone, too. There are universe themes where, for several days, you seem to see them everywhere you look.

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This week has been like that. I went to the local grocery store and there was Sam, standing in the produce aisle.

Except it wasn’t Sam.

Then I saw him walking down the street in shorts and flip-flops, earbuds in.

Except it wasn’t Sam.

Then I got online and in a grief resource page I belong to, a person I don’t know posted about how lately they saw their child everywhere.

And then Sam’s mom said she’d seen Sam in a young firefighter she passed, and how emotionally hard that had been for her.

Obviously there’s been a lot of sadness this week. But at the same time, it’s strange how this comes in waves. Why now?

What happens in the world around us that we are all having the same sort of grieving week? Not just those of us connected to Sam, but others, too. Is it that odd sense of days shortening, seasons changing? Even though it’s only July and too early, there have been days this week that felt like fall. Is it the melancholy moment of change, of the earth turning toward sleep, of darker mornings?

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Or is it simply how grief works? That some days are good and some days are hard and some weeks there are reminders surrounding you that are bittersweet?

Or maybe it’s just our loved ones giving us a gentle nudge, reminding us that they are still with us. To not forget them.

Whatever the reason, I’m not alone this week. There are people around me seeing their loved ones, suffering through that brief second of joy when we recognize the one who is gone, before reality smacks us in the heart.

I’m with you, wherever you are. And I understand.

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The husband on the river Sam loved to kayak.

12 thoughts on “Universal Sadness

  1. Late July is when we can start feeling the little changes. The air temperature is cooler, the days don’t get quite as warm and nights already feel like fall.
    I hadn’t put together the seasonal change with triggering increased grief, until reading your blog post but there it is. The wheel of another year is turning and Sam wasn’t here to feel it, to be in it.
    Yesterday I sat in the dentists chair for a cleaning and during the course of the appt the hygenist asked what I liked to do in summer and I replied that I hike and swim in the river. A lot. Later she put it together that I was the person who had lost their son to drowning (she took care of me at my last visit). She took a deep breath and said “what honor you do to his memory by swimming in the river and being in the mountains”.
    After that we were both quiet for a long time. I am surprised at how tears can be such a silent event.

    • What a wise woman, and brave to talk honestly instead of just saying the usual platitudes. Which are fine, and I understand those words fill the need to say something when you don’t know what to say. But still, what a heartfelt thing. Now I think I need to go to that dentist.

  2. Lisa, a beautiful piece indeed. Grief does indeed come in waves and there is no specified duration in which it will ebb. However, the good memories will soon take over the sad ones. Sam has been etched in all our memories with your narrative and that in itself has eternalized him in yours♥️

  3. I’ve craned my neck many times thinking I’ve seen my mother, so I know exactly what you mean. I think grief never really goes away, it just leaks out of the cracks sometimes. Like ones life is shattered by the death and we somehow glue the shards back together that somewhat resemble a life. But the glue fails occasionally, and friends and loved ones help spackle up the holes and we continue. That’s a weird analogy but that’s what it feels like for me. More often now, as time has gone on, those sightings aren’t as halting as they once were.

  4. Grief is a funny thing. One moment tearing our hearts into pieces then almost as quickly making us smile at a joy once shared. We all feel it in so many ways, all individually tailored to our needs. I believe we need grief to keep us whole, to keep us centered and keep us connected to those who’ve left. May you find the little joys through your grief to help give meaning to your loss.

    • Thank you. If you google ‘Sam P. Grafton’, you’ll find out about the wonderful young man we lost. You can also find amazing videos of him on YouTube. The world knew him as world class; we knew him as family.

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