To tell you the truth, I’m not sure why two of my books have focused on grief. I can only tell you that I probably write about it because I have the utmost respect for people who are able to cope with grief well. Losing someone is so hard—unimaginable, even—especially when we love someone so much we can’t imagine them not being here with us.
In Baseball Girl, Frankie loses her dad. In Inn Significant, Milly loses her husband to a fatal road accident. Both of these characters loved so deeply that the loss was, for a time, insurmountable. And yet, they both learn to carry on, never forgetting their father or husband, but dealing with it the best that they could.
Two weeks ago today, we suffered our own unimaginable loss. My son’s best friend passed away at 19 from a long illness and we have been devastated by this loss. His parents are our dear friends, and he was a most beloved member of our community. He was full of life, charismatic, loving, sweet, funny, and full of charm. He was like a member of our household—coming in and out just like a member of our family. My husband bought him boxes and boxes of Cheese-Its because he loved them so much; I made him what he called my “legendary brownies.” And I’ll never forget the way he and my son became the closest of friends. He was supportive and kind. He was everything you’d want in a son, brother, friend, cousin, swim team coach or classmate. Our level of grief—our whole community’s level of grief—continues, and I pray for healing for all who loved him.
A couple of years ago after I released Inn Significant, someone who read the book told me it helped her cope with the loss of her brother. I was so touched by that, and I think what I learned from writing about grief is that it boils down to this: sharing our grief, in whatever form and in whatever way, is part of the healing process. Whether it’s reading books, talking about our loved one, needing a hug or a good meal, finding support in friends and family, or figuring out how to carry on that person’s legacy, we need ways to cope with grief, even when we can’t for the life of us get the question we all want answered by a higher power: Why? Why did this have to happen?
While no one can answer that question, we can help each other in little ways by offering kindness and support to the family and to one another each and every day.
And so, I’ll end this rather melancholy post as I sit here welling up with tears by simply using a hashtag that one of our friends began in memory of our friend: