How to Respond to Someone Else's Grief

But this post isn't about my own grief. It's not about the tears I've cried, or the questions I've asked. It’s not about my own days where getting out of bed felt too hard.

It's about a different side of the fight. It's about your mom's grief when she loses her college roommate. And your best friend after she has a miscarriage. It’s about all the people you encounter, telling you about their grief.

So Lonely I Could Die: What I Have Learned About Loneliness

The night it happens I’m alone. Afternoon slides into darkness, a day gone without notice. I put on a rom-com. I paint my nails. I wait.

I’m jonesing for junk food, so I walk up over the hill and get fries and a shake at the Park Street McDonald’s. On my way home through the Common, it starts to pour. My sandals take on water like a sponge. I squelch up to the third floor and towel off. The fries are cold and the milkshake is cloyingly sweet. I regret ever wanting them. I am still alone.

TUESDAY TUNES: Songs for the Optimist

My skin has purpled over the years, more so in this phase of life than ever. Every time I miss someone. Every time I’m disappointed, or a disappointment; every time I’m let down, or let someone down. Every time I work so hard to stand tall and instead get sent to the floor. Another scratch, another hit. And I peel myself off the ground and think, am I okay? Is this hurt all that’s left for me?

Wild and Brave: What A Solo Hike Taught Me About Smallness

Despite the map’s ominous warning, for the first few hours I was connecting to the correct trails and trail posts easily. At each post, I paused dramatically in a power stance, looked around, and waited expectantly for the big moment to happen. It kept not happening and I was starting to get impatient, but then I got distracted by the fact that I could not see the next trail post.

I thought that was weird, but figured I’d come across it pretty quickly. I mean, I’d come across all the other trail posts pretty quickly, right? I also told myself I could always turn around at any point. I knew I wouldn’t though, because that would mean admitting failure, which I have always had an unhealthy fundamental issue with.

TUESDAY TUNES: Songs for Growth

I just turned twenty-five.

What a strange thing to say. Twenty-five was an age that, for much of my life, sounded old and cool. And yet here I am, feeling largely neither. I still can’t put my eyeliner on straight, I still ask my parents for help with taxes, and I’d still give just about anything to be in college again. I don’t feel old most days.

Birthdays are a good reminder of the love that helps me grow. So is music. Here are five songs for the joy and confusion of growth, birthday or not.

Modernity Has Failed Us

Don’t paint me as a “let’s just go live off the grid among the wolves and chipmunks” advocate just yet. Systems are important for order; this isn’t a rally cry to take up pitchforks and torches and proclaim anarchy. We should still get our “I Voted” stickers; we should still call our senators; we should still work actively within our institutions to demand justice. These are good, important, necessary things that we are called to do. But if we seek absolute safety in our systems, we will be disappointed. 

Systems are not strong enough to hold our hope.

TUESDAY TUNES: Songs for Midnight

Here’s to one last night of feeling everything, at least for this year. Here’s to the fires we walked through and the infernos ahead. Here’s to the love and laughter we experienced and all that’s still to come. And, of course, here’s to good music. No matter what you’re feeling on December 31st, I hope some of my favorite tracks of the year can be your background.

The Art of Goals

I am going to begin like I did last year: pen poised, gaze out over the lingering Christmas lights strung through the dark, heart open to all the pulsing possibility of 365 more days. I’m going to dream. I’m going to set my goals like signal flairs—intended less to be reached and more to point me in a new direction. I don’t love failure any more than I did as a kid, but I’m willing now because I’ve seen where it can get me.

Lessons of Winter: Learning How to Heal

Amy sat across the table from me in her little studio apartment. A bowl of tortilla chips and jalapenos slabbed between us. Hot tea on either side. Head between my hands, red eyes and a soaked face full of salty tear streams, trying to catch my breath as I heard myself, for the first time in my life, admit a feeling of loneliness and failure that I had yet to experience.

TUESDAY TUNES: Songs for When You Need Light

The holiday season has a way of weighing us down. This time of year is supposed to be so full of joy and light and laughter, a time to feel so lucky for all we have. But sometimes all we feel is weight. The weight of loss, of stress, of loneliness, of everything that feels wrong in a season when we just this once want everything to be perfect. We want to go back to easier days, days that don’t strain our shoulders and sit heavy on our hearts. We want to cast off the weight. Even just for a moment. Even just for the amount of time it takes to smile at the twinkle lights glowing through this season that too often is darker than we expected. We want, however briefly, to shed what’s heavy and rise above it into light.

Redefining the Idea of Success

It has been almost a year since I graduated from college. It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. My younger self would be surprised that I did not choose a solidified career path, but my younger self would have also questioned why I quit doing the things that I loved. Why did I not allow myself the space I needed to be creative? I could not allow myself the time for anything else besides school and work. To me, that is what equaled success.

TUESDAY TUNES: Songs for When You're In A Life Transition

I’m in a transition place, and I desperately want to not be. I feel on hold, and I want to get to the good part, where I live on my own in a cool apartment with a comfortable salary. On the other hand, the last years of transition have allowed me to grow into wonderful relationships and fulfilling work. These years haven’t been anything to skip over. They’ve been full. Long, and wearing, but also joyous and real. There’s learning for me here, and so many important people, and I can feel myself transforming, however slowly, into the woman I’ve always hoped to be.

When Life Feels Transient

Despite the excitement of unpacking and settling into a new place, my tendency is to be frustrated and bitter for weeks surrounding a move. It’s easy to get caught up in missing what I no longer have. I romanticize the yard from our old home—in my mind it is lush and green even though in reality it was too dry and prickly to walk barefoot on—but wasn’t it better than this brick patio space? I miss the white walls that we’ve exchanged for beige, even though we couldn’t hang anything on those walls without asking our landlord to pound in the nails (something I was too shy to do the entire duration of our stay.)