On Unexpected Joys


As painful as the loss of my aunt was, there were also times of unexpected joy. While my sense of suffering seemed heightened, so did my sense of awe and gratitude. The following letter, from the first year after her death, describes one of those times –


Yesterday I actually relaxed: swam in the quiet pond, lay in the finally bright sun, stared at small ants tunneling under my beach towel, grew hot. I felt my bones sink down, my muscles rest, my thoughts disappear. There was only the letting go, the water lapping, breeze freshening, clouds flickering over the sky.

It’s been a long, long time since I could do that. And, oh, how much more I still need. But I can feel it coming. Something big and heavy, something pinning me into a sad, uncomfortable place, is slipping away.

It might be you.

Funny, how such a tiny person, so light, could be so much to carry. But I guess that’s the weight of a life: a collection of so many years, of longings and thoughts, joys and fears, and the motley, many ways to be. They don’t lie easy on us. It’s hard enough to live our own lives, harder still to do someone else’s.

But you know what? I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Our rich, tangled-up time together was like a sweet, medicinal honey: nourishing, though not always tasty; giving life, yet costing something to digest.


I wonder if others have experienced those hidden joys during the journey through grief –

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