Grief and Writing

Close to one year ago, I moved back to New York to be surrounded by family and to rebuild my marriage. At the time, the decision to move home was more than simply a choice. It was a calling. For months I felt like I was being pulled toward home and I couldn’t wait to arrive. Not only was I going to have the opportunity to reconnect with my loved ones, my son was going to have the chance to really get to know his entire family. He would now truly understand what it meant to have grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I couldn’t wait to immerse us in the chaos, love, cohesion, and sometimes craziness of family.

In the true spirit of reuniting, my son enjoyed his first birthday in New York surrounded by his entire family. Thirty of us, packed into a very cool and very small place, together to celebrate my son and our arrival back home in New York. It was a glimpse into the new life that was upon us and my heart was filled with a sense of contentment and joy that I had not felt in a very long time.

And then my dad became sick. The next two months were spent by his side, mostly in the hospital, but also at my home and at my parents home. I suddenly understood the intensity of the pull I felt to return to New York and knew that I was being given the gift of time. I hated seeing my dad sick, going through so much pain, so I found a way to be grateful. Grateful for the opportunity to truly reconnect, sitting and talking and doing the things we used to do when I was growing up. Grateful to be able to help my father and give back to him.  Thankful for what a truly wonderful father he had been to me. Grateful that my son was now getting to spend so much time with his papa to really get to know him. We began to make plans for the future, baseball games we would go to and trips we would take together as soon as my dad got better. There were so many memories to be made and we were all so excited to begin making them.

And then my dad died. Suddenly, one of the happiest times of my life, reconnecting with family and reconciling my marriage, became the absolute most devastating time in my life that I had yet to experience. My world came tumbling down and I was thrust into a process of grieving that nothing in this world could prepare me for. I felt overwhelming sadness, a lost sense of self, anger, longing, and a desire to both isolate and insolate myself. My father was gone and I just wanted to scream, kicking and punching like a 2 year old, that it wasn’t fair. It was just not fair! We were finally going to get time together, real time, and now he was gone. It was all gone. My vision of our future had been altered and there was nothing I could do about that.

A long process of grieving began. A space that I remain in now, and imagine I will live in for quite awhile. It is defined as the unknown, and is filled with uncertainty, inconsistency, and discomfort. It is a process that possesses great force and at times has felt like a black hole of pain. What I didn’t expect was that this space would also be filled with moments of peace, joy, and a deep and unexplainable connection.

Somehow, in losing my father here on earth and in his human body, I have been given the gift of feeling connected to him in a way that was not possible while he was alive. I have had moments of being encased by his overwhelming sense of unconditional love for me. Understanding for the first time in my life exactly what it meant to be his daughter. I have been gifted with dreams of him, filled with conversations and physical connection. I feel him with me throughout my days and know that he is always close by my side. The most recent gift has been that I have begun to embody him in different ways. A certain way he would hold his lip when concentrating, as well as the way he chose to exist in the world. I can feel myself walking in his footsteps, filled with overwhelming peace and joy.

As I come back to life, beginning again to feel inspired and hopeful. I know that it is this process that helps me to heal. Through writing and sharing, I am able to feel my heart open and love fill the spaces of pain and sadness. Writing is a way to claim my experience, give myself a voice, connect with others, and contribute to the world around me. It is a tool that guides me out of the darkness and into the light, a vessel of expansion and freedom.

….Writing is the gateway to pulling forward the limitless love that lies within my heart….

4 Comments

  1. Anthony Polifronio May 7, 2015 Reply

    Thanks for the nice comments Jenn, my initial intention was to simply compliment your work here and then somehow I ended up laying it all out. While creating this site to help work through your own grief you have given others a positive platform to share, create, and to just refocus ourselves. Thanks again!!

  2. Anthony May 5, 2015 Reply

    Hi Jenn,

    I love what you have created here. I couldn’t agree with you more about how cathartic writing can be, especially when dealing with the loss of a loved one. I started to write after my older brother was killed in a car accident when I was 10 yrs. old (he was 15). My Brother John was an old soul for such a young guy and used to write quite often himself about the sadness and burden that he felt having to deal with my Mother’s addiction (alcoholic) while trying to keep me upbeat and shield me from as much as he possibly could, I rarely noticed the heavy responsibility that he carried around, helping my Father maintain some normalcy while praying for better days. I used to watch him write for hours and he would always encourage me but I rarely joined him since I had it pretty good with the best older brother making sure I was happy, trying to keep the negative aspects of our lives from hurting me as they hurt him. When he was killed so suddenly I was alone and scared, my father working six days a week from 5:30 am – 7:00 pm most days. I relied heavily on friends and thankfully I was blessed with so many who helped keep me busy. However I found myself missing John more and more every day, I would lay in his bed to try to still feel his presence, often talking to him just in case he could hear me. One day while looking through his desk I found a bunch of his poems and letters to himself, after reading for a while I decided that I would honor his memory and start writing as he always did. Initially I struggled to find my words but before long many feelings came upon me and I was able to write my thoughts and cry when I needed to cry.

    My brother’s death was my first major loss, through the years I was forced to deal with the passing of my father (when I graduated college), my mother 10 yrs. later (she eventually became sober when I was 15 yrs. old allowing us some very good years to develop a great relationship), and a little over six years ago we lost our daughter who was only 1 month old. Somehow I was able to write the eulogy and a poem for both my mother and my daughter. So many who attended my daughter’s funeral commented that they would not have had the strength to write and then read the eulogy and poem if it was their child. Looking back I often wonder how I was able to keep it together at all but the common thread is writing and allowing myself to sit down, focus/feel, and find the words from deep within. I used to think that I would be able to handle loss better than most but each time I lost another family member the grieving process was so vastly different, probably because our relationships with each loved one is different. Losing my daughter crushed my spirit and love for life, having more ups and downs than I could have ever imagined. Although I’ve learned not to make bold statements or predictions on my well being I can say that I have more clarity than I have in many years and have started to see the beauty in life and others again which has made me feel good overall. My initial motivation to write to you was to support/agree with your personal feelings about writing, however I soon ventured off and shared my experiences which has made me cry and smile all within this short time. I also realize that I need to find more time to write, allowing myself to think, create, and feel deeply for things/people again. Thanks for providing me with the motivation to share…..best wishes always, Anthony

    • Author
      Jennifer Laurent May 5, 2015 Reply

      Anthony… thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I was brought to tears as I read your story. You have been through so much and have found a beautiful way to use your pain as a powerful tool to create beauty around you. I can imagine you picking up the writings from your brother and them becoming a part of you. I can imagine you writing and speaking the eulogy for your mother and daughter, the power of that moment for both you and those around you. I am truly honored that you have allowed us to bear witness to your incredible journey…I know that my heart as expanded as a result and I imagine the hearts of those who read this will expand as well. Love and light from my heart to yours. Thank you.

  3. Cheryl April 30, 2015 Reply

    Beautiful Jenn!

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