What does grief look like?

What does grief look like?

Tell me,


Grief is flowers on a floating pink chador

wrapped around a short, soft figure

who sits and prays and kisses on her small, stiff son’s bed.


Grief is a girl

whose Spanish is a stream of tearful endearments from a heart-shaped face –

Ay, mamí, míra qué lindo, qué precioso –

as she cradles her 34-week-fetus’ peeling body.


Grief is an ex-PD officer,

hair cropped close, shirt tucked in,

shaking hands firmly down the hallway from his wife’s deathbed,

saying, “No-one’s driving home tonight.”


What does grief look like?

Tell me,


Grief is a daughter hurling herself across

her father’s dead form,

crying to him,

Daddy, I’m so sorry,

I’m so, so, sorry.


Grief is a six-foot-four black man

stepping into a room of wailed-out sisters

who makes no sound as his knees crumple, forehead to the floor

and he covers his head with his arms,

his father’s eyes staring and fixed

over the blood-flecked airway they placed in him.


Grief is a large and hopeful family,

asking prayers for progress.

He got 17 good years after the last time,

said his wife as she blows her nose, and he’s ready for 17 more.

Then two days later, his name is gone from my list.


What does grief look like?



Grief is a young woman in green,

hidden in a hospital stairwell

on her father’s empty birthday,

crying for a boy she never quite met.


– VB, 13th July 2013, Baystate Medical Center, Springfield MA

Published in the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling, Vol 67, No 3 (September, 2013)


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