grief is messy


ten years ago today, my daddy died. if you have a minute, read about it here. it’s a pretty amazing story, if i do say so myself. (hint: scroll down and start at the 10th paragraph. i spent the first 8 paragraphs linking the post to that day’s prompt (a year later, i don’t bother), and the 9th paragraph, well, we’ll call it a segue cause honestly, i have no idea how that made it to print.)

i shed tears as prayers of remembrance and gratitude
i chide myself for wallowing.

i crave darkness
i turn all the lights on.

i spew words and send emails to people who rock as my rocks
i scold myself for letting people see me like this.

i long to crawl back in bed and sleep the day away
i choose to honor daddy and my self by leaning into this tender bruise.

i am tempted to stay in my floppy flannel pajamas all day long
i hear the ole familiar “boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses”
and know that
only pretty girls can get away with such indulgences.

i forego today’s walk
and eat cookies
and do little
besides reading
the occasional blog.

i ask myself:
did i do all that i could do?
was it wrong to give him permission
to go?
should i have knocked on
door after door after door
until some physician eventually healed?

one thing i do not do
is make my daddy more in death
than he was in life.
he was not perfect.
i wouldn’t ache for him so
if he had been.

This post is (loosely) (or maybe creatively sounds better) written in response to today’s #reverb10 prompt:
Q: What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
A: Lately everything contributes to my writing. And nothing – nothing at all – was gonna’ come between me and my writing on this day.


  1. Mrsmediocrity

    my daddy is still here. but let me tell you, i can’t even think about it. he is my hero and he always will be and i know that i’m never going to get over it when he isn’t here anymore. just typing that makes me cry.
    so you go ahead and do whatever you have to do, eat cookies, think your thoughts, cry. love ya.

    • whollyjeanne

      thank you seems such an inadequate response today. it’s been ten years, and it doesn’t hurt even the teensiest bit less with time.

  2. Brooke Farmer

    I am so afraid of the day that either of my parents pass. And it will be my dad that goes first. I have been trying to get him to come see the red woods with me because I know how much he loves them and I have never been. I am so afraid we will never take that trip together.

    This made my heart ache.

    • whollyjeanne

      set a date. make it happen. do it now.

      • whollyjeanne

        brooke, i left out one thing: nothing is more important.

  3. Lalzlatina

    I love you for sharing your heart with us. Sending you a hug and a huge dose of Jersey love.

    • whollyjeanne

      now that’s alotta love . . . and i receive it all, gratefully.

  4. Mark

    I admire the courage to share this. Grief is what drove me into writing in public. I didn’t share the grief, but I needed the outlet so I took it. With cookies.

    • whollyjeanne

      mark, i understand the not sharing part. that’s usually what i do, but today, i found myself needing . . . wanting people to bear witness. thank you for stopping by. i’ve still got your blog open in a window. beautiful poetry. absolutely beautiful. so glad we’ve met.

      • whollyjeanne

        p.s. and mark, hope you and your wife will soon be healed to the point that the accident is just a memorable story.

      • Mark

        It was too raw, too recent, too big. Grandma was like a mother more than a grandparent. When she died, I was bereft. I puddle up when I think about that time. It’s been three years, almost four. Some things you never quite put down, y’know?

        Thank you for all of your kind words. The accident has been as much as blessing to us as it has been a problem. Thank you for reading my little scribbles.

        • whollyjeanne

          “too raw, too recent, too big” – oh, mark, that i understand all too well. you should’ve seen what poured out this morning! “puddle up” is an apt description. and yes, something you never quite put down. committee members (i call myself a committee, another way to present and deal with “those voices”) rail (loudly) that after 10 years i should be over it. so glad it’s not a felony to shoot those damn voices.

          i thoroughly enjoyed reading a few of your pieces. they’re so much more than scribblings. they fed me. enkindled me. i’ll be visiting often.

          till soon . . .

  5. marjory

    Wow, I feel your strength, nothing standing between you and your love.
    “He was not perfect.
    i wouldn’t ache for him so
    if he had been.”
    Thank you for the gift of your tender words filled with love, they reach my heart oh so gently dear.

  6. Alma

    Yep. Pretty much the whole damn thing. Mine’s a handful of days from now.

    • whollyjeanne

      oh, alma. my wordgirl. don’t know of a single thing i can say except: i will be there.

  7. Square-Peg Karen

    Honey, I came over here to your blog to comment on the post you wrote about why you’re IN #reverb10 — I read it and the post after it (with your two words) and only commented on the word one.

    But all day (I was out running around most of the day) what you said about losing your dad in December was playing in my head. I wanted to come over and re-read that section and send you a comment. But now you’ve written *this* beautiful piece about your daddy, and I’ll comment here.

    Jeanne, my heart goes out to you – grief is such an enormous thing — and I love/hate how it talks to us through our bodies (i mean, regardless of how time-oriented you are or aren’t – our bodies remembers *when* someone died–they(our bodies) can slap us upside the head with the blues — out of the blue — because our bodies remember.

    But YOU, my dear — I want to tell you how honored I am to know you – here you are in this december grief thing – loving your dad so — and you’ve opened your heart up in the Support Stories blog round robin, to help others — you’ve opened your heart up to help family when they were going thru rough times recently, you’ve opened your heart up to giving loads of time and support to the #reverb10 deal — ALL while you are holding grief (and that’s just a piece of what you’re doing).

    Namaste, baby…I am just blown away by your huge heartedness!! Thanks for sharing your heart – and your daddy – with us!

    • whollyjeanne

      karen, you and your words and your empathy, caring, and sensitivity always mean more to me than i can measure – but never more than this comment on this day. thank you. love.

  8. Beth Hoffman

    Oh, Jeanne!

    I read your words and got a chill — for their beauty, sorrow, and for how I, so vividly, pictured you writing them.

    This is beautiful and haunting and raw and tender, and I feel privileged to have read it.

    Much love to you, darling!

    • whollyjeanne

      i wrap your love around me. thank you.

  9. Lyz

    wow.. be-a-u-tiful.. your words made me cry.. maybe it’s my mood, but i just feel so inspired by your words..
    big hugs and thank you so much!

    • whollyjeanne

      thank you, lyz. today, especially, my tears welcome company.

  10. Karen Sharp

    Dearest Jeanne,

    My heart, my tenderness, my knowing goes out to you. While I don’t know what it might be exactly like for you, my father died 3 1/2 years ago and I do know what it was like for me. Somehow we are always, eternally, a little girl, desperately longing for Daddy’s love when it does not seem available, gloriously celebrating in it when it is.

    My own throat closes up when I write that, with my own tears still tightly held in bud. Yes, Square-Peg Karen, our bodies know.

    Sometimes I still feel the warm sonorant echo of his love, the presence of his glorious celebration of me. Sometimes I feel absolutely bereft, much deeper than my adult years, aching at a level shaken way down to my core, asking did he ever love me?

    There is no easy comfort for either of us. But I want you to know I see the eternally little girl in you

    and I KNOW she is beautiful. Pajamas and all.

    • whollyjeanne

      oh my goodness gracious, karen. this eloquent, heartfelt comment is a post unto itself. and through it, your love washes over me. thank you.

  11. Danielle

    So beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    • whollyjeanne

      and thank you for stopping by and taking the time to leave a note.

  12. Lollygagger

    Your candid thoughts are absolutely beautiful.

  13. Julie Daley

    “i choose to honor daddy and my self by leaning into this tender bruise.” so, so beautiful and real, dear. you being you, being real, feeling everything fully. it’s a gift to you, to your body, to your soul, just as you are a gift to all of us.

    I know the power of grief, and I know how sick it can make us when we don’t heed its demands. tend to the garden now.

    blessings, or as Square Peg Karen says, ‘Namaste, baby’.

    • whollyjeanne

      oh how i do love you, darlin. thank you. you rock as my rock.

  14. Teresa

    Tears stand in my eyes. for your pain, but also, with pride for you. My wonderful friend, you are so beautiful!

    Thank you for sharing your words and your self.

    Hugs and butterflies,

    • whollyjeanne

      and thank you for your empathy and the butterflies. xo

  15. Stephanie (@dancingwaves)

    Thank you for sharing this, and for sharing that struggle between wanting to sink in and pull the covers over our heads and leaning into the places that it’s hard and trusting that we are enough. Because you are.


    • whollyjeanne

      we are all enough, aren’t we stephanie? it’s just hard to remember that sometimes.

  16. Sally G.

    So, I was doing a bit of reading on the #reverb10 site last night. And to my delight, I discovered that you are a Fairy Godmother.

    “How amazing is that?!?”, I said to myself, “I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be a Fairy Godmother. Granting others’ wishes, making dreams come true, flying without mechanics or wings, waving sparkly wands ~ how I’d LOVE to do that!” Sort of like Oprah, without the sponsors.

    Anyway, I got to thinking about how lucky I am to have ‘met’ you this past year, how I’ve enjoyed singing with you (will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four …), how I’ve seen the power of humour blended with hurt as a healing process through you – and how fitting it is that you’re serving as a Fairy Godmother right now.

    And then I started to realize that a Fairy Godmother is so much more than my initial interpretation – because you are so much more. And now I understand that there is a distinct difference between ‘doing’ what Fairy Godmothers do and BEING a Fairy Godmother.

    Through you, I now see that to truly BE a Fairy Godmother, your heart must be open, wide open – so that there’s enough room for the all of it. The love, the compassion, the hurt, the pain. And to BE a Fairy Godmother, you don’t just fly around making others’ wishes come true, you don’t wave your wand around so it sparkles and dazzles – – you allow your wand to be the magnet that draws the dazzle and the wonder from whomever is in your presence at that time, and you trust them with the power and vulnerability of all that’s in your heart, and in so doing – you remind them who they are, and their lives change forever.

    That is the magic. That is your magic. And Fairy Godmothers MUST wear glasses – because otherwise, we would not see ourselves reflected back in the beauty that you are …

    • whollyjeanne

      oh my friend, you have no idea how much your words mean. how very much they mean. i’ll tell you all about it one day, but for today, i’ll just say thank you.

      • Sally G.

        I’m a Fairy Godmother in progress. And so grateful for my glasses. You are loved …

  17. Julie Boesen

    You touched my heart today with this ~ bless you!

    • whollyjeanne

      thanks for coming by, julie, and taking the time to leave a note.

  18. Gina Thelemann

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I especially was moved when you talked about his imperfections – so many people insert halos onto their loved ones once they’re gone, but I prefer to remember them as they were. There’s nothing more important than accepting their mistakes and loving them in spite of them.

    • whollyjeanne

      you write: “There’s nothing more important than accepting their mistakes and loving them in spite of them.” i couldn’t agree more, gina.

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