Tag Archives: Grief

Letter to Chris

Dearest Chris,

As of yesterday, it has been three years since that fateful day when my cell phone rang and I answered, and you said “Come home, Marg.  Come home NOW.”

I left my groceries on the checkout counter and rushed home.  One last kiss and you were gone.

I wasn’t sad then.  I felt oddly congratulatory.  As if you had escaped.  You surely found freedom.  Freedom from pain, from the physical limitations which your illnesses imposed upon you.

You were Chris, bigger than life and always wise and funny and “up” for us.  Right to the end.

I couldn’t grieve for you.  You were off on a whole new adventure, a new realm.  It was we who found ourselves poorer for your passing, our lives less brilliant and comforting.  Our ration of love depleted.

It’s hard to believe sometimes that three years have passed, and in other ways, it seems like a lifetime ago.

I will always think lovingly of you.  How your greatest pleasure was taking care of people, whether it was our children and grandchildren, or the tenants at Mathew Court, or the kids who worked as painters for you.

It used to annoy me that you would dig into the garbage bin to collect and give refundable bottles to the homeless.  But I was someow proud, too, of that and of how you came with me to help at the Sisters of Atonement, making and serving hot dinners.  Or spreading butter and the nun’s special blend of fish or stale cheese slices or peanut butter on bread for lunch time sandwiches in the big soup kitchen.

I never sit in a church pew without remembering how you took my hand in yours and held it on your thigh.  If I close my eyes I can still feel the smooth fabric of your slacks, the warmth of your body heat.

Whenever we went out, you always made sure we had fun.  You could really dance.  Before your arteries shut down, before your legs went, you danced up a storm.  Jive, waltz, polka; it made no difference.  You were graceful and strong.

You loved NFL football and world history and crime TV.  You loved us.  You loved me.

And that’s a gift that I will always be grateful for.  A gift that I will take to my grave, regardless of where my journey may take me now.

And for that great love, I thank you.  More than I can ever say.

Love always,


Grief: The Natural Course


I have come to learn the hard way that grief must run its natural course.

Kind of reminds me of a river I once knew, a mountain fed stream called the Salmon River that runs through Williams Park in Langley, B.C.  One year when heavy rains came, the river flooded, washing out bridges and banks, uprooting small willows and bushes that stood along the water’s edge.

The engineers at the park’s department set about rerouting the creek to minimize the damage the next time it flooded.  The idea was to redirect the path of the tumultuous waters so that even in extreme conditions, the force of the current would be less hazardous to its environment.  To this end, wire cages called Gabions filled with rock were installed along the river bank to change the course of the river.

Several weeks after the project was completed, a downpour came, lasting several days.  Agents of the parks board came to see the effects of their efforts.  As caretakers we already knew the result: the raging river had not only done just as much damage as before; it had also dislodged the Gabions in order to resume its natural course.

Like the Parks’ engineers I thought by pouring my overwhelming emotion into a new relationship, I could reroute the emotions of my grief.  I could get on with my life at a much earlier time than predicted.  I could avoid all the pain and loneliness of grieving.

But what I learned was that at the first sign of issues and challenges in the new relationship, I was easily derailed.  My judgement was almost non-existent.  I missed many warning signs that this person was not suitable for me;  Not because he was a bad person, but because I had just grasped at what my grandmother used to describe as “any port in a storm”.

It was a painful lesson.  Painful for me and for the other person as well.

Be grounded in your grief.  It’s a natural process. Don’t fear or shun it.  With God’s help will you make it through.

To learn more about Williams Park, go to: http://www.tourism-langley.ca/williams-park/