Breathing New Life …

Being a writer, and being someone who has used writing each and every brutally honest emotion or thought as my way of coping and crawling through this muddy hell we call grief – I have often found it next to impossible to read other people’s pieces about death and loss. They never seem to sit right with me. They are either too religious, too preachy, too covered in the plastic-coating of what the outside world thinks and wants grief to be, or just too unrelatable. They are too much of the wrong things, and never enough of the right things. Or at least that is what I have experienced.

It is rare for me to find a book or a film or an article or much of anything – that truly speaks to me in that “Wow!” sort of way. So I don’t find myself reading a lot of other people’s work. I write. I write all of the things that I feel nobody else says. I write all the words that others tell me they are afraid to express. I write the pain and the fear and the questions and the panic and the fight and the terror and the loneliness and the confusion and the “what now?” on the trainwreck that is this life.

Sometimes, of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Sometimes, now and then, rarely – I will read something so powerful, so beautiful, so poetic, so true – that it is as if that writer had jumped inside of my heart and brain, stolen my words and my soul, and printed them there in front of me. But that isn’t what happened. Because when you feel the kind of intense, all-consuming pain that a widowed person feels, or that a person who has been through loss and death feels – there is no reason for stealing. The beauty inside of your words comes from that gut-wrenching pain – it comes from that hole inside of your soul that used to be your life – and if you are brave enough to put it out there, it can be everything.

Me in my “after” life – at Camp Widow East, Myrtle Beach.

Recently, I was introduced by my dear friend Sarah, to an exceptional man named Tom Zuba. Tom is a widower, who, in addition to losing his wife, also lost both his son, and his daughter. All seperately. At different times. When I type that out or even start to think about the massiveness of that statement, I almost cannot breathe. And so I have no idea how this man breathes through all of that pain, as it piles itself onto his heart, over and over and over ……

 I have never met this man, nor have I “met” Sarah. But in this new, weird, widowed life of mine – they are my “internet” friends. Sarah and I talk on the phone often – we trade tears and laughs and brutally honest dialogue about our dead loved ones that we lost in a few second’s time. Sarah is a writer and a very talented artist and someone I really admire, and so when she told me I have to check out this guy’s poetry and what he has to say about grief and loss, it took me about 14 seconds after hanging up the phone with her to look at his Facebook page and his website and his words. His insanely beautiful, haunting words.

 And after I did that, his words caused a hurricane of action within me. His words left me with that rare feeling of “Wow!”, where I felt as if just reading them was not enough, so I sent him a message telling him so. And he wrote back. And then I wrote back. And he wrote back again. And we talked about pain and love and comedy and baseball and life.

 And now we are friends. Internet friends. But friends. And I know that we will find a way to pool our pain and our passions together, and meet up somewhere in the future, to create something that becomes that rare “Wow!” moment for someone else. But until then, I’m going to post here the poem he wrote that brought me to tears. The poem that woke me up and made me start to breathe differently – with new life. The poem that I’m going to print out and frame, and put on the wall in my home office, so that I can read the words every single time I feel like giving up. Every single time I don’t want to get up and feel this pain. Every single time I tell myself that what Im doing doesn’t really matter, and nobody really cares or reads or listens.

Every. Single. Time.

“Grief is not the enemy.
Grief is the teacher.

But its lessons are not learned in the head.
With the mind.
Its lessons are heart lessons.
Filtered through grace.

and over
and over
our mind will say
“But, this is not fair.”
“I don’t deserve this.”
“Why me?”
“I will never get over this.”
“The pain will always be there.”

Don’t get trapped
in the viscous
of your mind.

Grief is not a head-thing.
Not if you want to heal.

Healing grief 
is a heart thing.

And when the heart speaks
to you
in silence
it says
I know darkness
deep, all-encompassing, endless
so I will be light
for the next person.

I know loneliness
even in (especially in)
a room full of people
so I will be friend
for the next person.

I know terror
so I will be comfort
for the next person.

And I know despair.
life is too dark
so I will be hope
for the next person.

And in time
with grace
and heart
I realize that
I am more of who I was
not less.

I am more.
Not less.

We think that grief is the enemy
to be avoided at all costs.
It is not.
Grief is not the enemy.
Great is the great, life-giving teacher.

Not in spite of the fact that someone you love has died.
But because of that fact that someone you love has died.

Grief is the teacher.
The life-giving, heart-expanding teacher.
Because you have chosen to say yes
to life
to love
to your beloved, 
and over
and over again.

Grief is not the enemy.”


You can find more of this truth and inspiration at or To check out my friend Sarah’s blog and her words of hope and love, go to

As always, your comments are deeply appreciated and MATTER! Thank you …