Mark Liebenow
essayist, poet, blogger


Grief Recovery: Deep River Beneath White Pines

            This is my journey after my wife suddenly died in her forties. It is the book that I needed to read when I was grieving — the hard, hollow days, the chanting of despair, the slow movement back towards hope. I did not find a single account that told me how pervasive grief would be. I wrote my book to assure myself that I was getting better. I wrote to assure others who are grieving that they aren’t going crazy, that it’s important to work grief’s earth each day, and I wrote to help friends and family understand how the entire world shifts with even a single death and offer ideas for how they can help. I tell the story of Evelyn who taught the learning disabled and sang in Bay Area groups, and I draw in the grief experiences of famous people through the centuries. The account is raw in its honesty. It is literary. And it presents the rare point of view of the man.

A chapter from the essay, “Tinkering with Grief in the Woods,” that won the Literal Latte Essay Prize, 2012.

from the manuscript…

The Other Deepest Thing

The poet Naomi Shihab Nye wrote that ‘sorrow is the other deepest thing.’ When we have experienced grief, it never leaves us. It affects everything we do for the rest of our lives. I realized this as I drove away from Judy’s house. She opened up a dark chapter in her past in order to help me and shared the story of her husband’s death three years before. And though she was about to remarry and was happy again, her eyes still held residual sadness.

Like being in love with someone who loves us back, grief’s touch will not fade. If we love people greatly, we will also suffer greatly when they die. Yet we can grow from the hard journey. Grief teaches us about loss and about healing, about inner strengths we didn’t know we had, and about compassion for others when they lose someone they love.

Life is for diving deep into everything we do, with the resulting mix of successes and failures. Without failures, we aren’t taking enough risks.

Taking risks is crucial. Just as important is opening ourselves to matters over which we have no control. Like falling in love. Or grief.  Or discovering our passion for some kind of work. Without all three, our lives are incomplete. Death affirms the renewal of life and forces us to move in new directions. We gain wisdom and understanding that we wouldn’t otherwise have. And through grief, we learn how important it is to ease the suffering of others even when we are suffering ourselves.

Mark’s grief blog: widowersgrief.blogspot.com


© Copyright 2011-23 by Mark Liebenow. All rights reserved.