A message from Joan Souders, CGE, grief support specialist

In the book “Lament for a Son” by Nicholas Wolterstorff, he writes, “I have been daily grateful for the friend who remarked that grief isolates. He did not mean only that I, grieving, am isolated from you. He meant that shared grief isolates the sharers from each other. Though united in that we are grieving, we grieve differently.” 

What he shared is true about grief being so different for each of us. During these darker days of the new year, cherish the memories. Allow them to help bring comfort to your hurting heart.

Nicholas lost his son in a hiking accident in Austria. Not only was he in deep grief, but he had to fly to Austria to retrieve his son and all his belongings which included his son’s sandals.

As I read this I was reminded of my husband’s sandals. Believe me, they were so ugly. My girls and I tried to replace them with new, easy-to-slip-on shoes. He would wear the new shoes, but soon the sandals were back on his feet. Oh, how I disliked those sandals. However, I accepted them as his favorite footwear.

In the book, the author talks about some things his son cherished. As a father, he thought they were questionable. Yet, as the years passed, he realized it didn’t matter. Those things were a part of his son’s life and brought him pleasure.

For five years I never moved my husband’s sandals. I would lift them to vacuum and place them back where he had left them. Three years ago, I finally threw the ugly sandals away! Now, when I share my experience of loss, I laugh and tell the story of the sandals. It brings courage to other shared grievers.

Nicholas found a way to evolve into a different chapter of his son’s life as he helped prepare the publishing of his writings. Yet, he holds on to his son’s sandals.

For both Nicholas and I, we allowed ourselves to let go of our expectations of how and what we thought was best. We understand that we are sharing our grief in our own way. We are shared grievers. We all grieve differently and that is why there is a feeling of isolation.

May the year 2024 become a time when you feel the value of shared grief. It’s okay that it is different because you are individuals who have experienced loss.

Do you want to speak to someone about your grief?

Processing your story and journey in a supportive environment can be healing. Connect with a Heartlinks grief counselor by calling (509) 837-1676.

Heartlinks’ grief support groups provide a safe place to share one’s emotions with others who are also grieving. They are a great place to learn from others’ experiences. RSVP is not required. Visit our Grief Support page to learn more about upcoming groups in your area.

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