I remember this grief when it was raw.

New grief, fresh and stunning, is a ragged wound. Every touch, however gentle, awakens the pain again. It is all searing edges; there is no center. It is filled with nothing but loss and removal—the child, the spouse, the parent, the dream, the plans, the expectation for the future, has been ripped out and left nothing but these raw edges behind.

You are always alone in grief, no matter who else shares the sorrow, because the particular hole left in you does not conform to anyone else’s. No one else grieves exactly this.

Grief is enormous; it expands you because you cannot hold it. Grief is miniscule; it shrinks you because you are so alone.

I remember the feeling of betrayal as other lives went on, other people returned to the routines that craft a life out of moments. Mine was done; mine was over. My life was nothing but raw edges and theirs was full. Grief is bitter.

I remember, too, the astonishment, and the dull disappointment, that after so great a devastation this body I live in continues its work. The traitorous heart beats without pause, the lungs fill and empty, the lump of meat you inhabit going on and on as if you aren’t torn in half.

Every breath, every beat is like salt on those raw wounded edges. Surely your own body should understand, surely it will pause to ask “why are we empty?” but it does not.

A new grief is unfathomable in its vastness; you cannot turn your mind from it. You hurt from fingertips to eyeballs; the ordered turning of the world is offensive to you. How dare the stars continue their serene orbit? They must know, they must see, the hugeness of this loss, but they do not drop from their places.

The sun you once thought of as a friend rises and sets as though all is well. It does not pause to grieve; it will not take a moment for you. It keeps its schedule.

Slinking around the raw edges you catch the whispered accusation of insignificance as the clock ticks, the earth turns, and others remove from comforting you to return to their own lives.

It pulls you out of the world, this raw red grief. It is a gulf

between you and the unfeeling physical universe

I remember me and this vast empty, how we stood apart from the world, from our own body, just me and loss at the edge of all things.

I look back now and it is as though I see myself at the edge of a cliff, ready to hurl my body to the rocks in view of the sun and stars. I remember how I felt, but I do not feel it now. The other side of the valley of the shadow of death is a world warmer and kinder than the one I left behind. There is no aloneness here. The stars are all young and they dance. The sun meanders across the sky, pausing frequently for conversation. The grass growing under my feet understands me.

I have grown around my grief; I am so much bigger now. The edges have healed and the scars they left are the loveliest patterns on my soul. I smile when I run my fingers along their edges.

I look back, and I see and I remember. I want to talk to the me of then, though I don’t know if I would listen. I see how I feel torn in half by the hugeness of my grief, and I want to say,

Don’t despair, you are not alone! Restoration and joy are on their way to you! The emptiness, the chasm of pain and loss, will become beautiful to you. Just wait a moment!

The hole in your heart is the door God will come through.