Grief is the last act of love we have to give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief, there was great love. –Unknown
I saw this on a friend’s Facebook wall a few days ago. She had shared a photo which included this quote (in a terrible font) on a marbled reddish-pink backdrop that had a heart at the top which looked as though it were illuminated by Christmas lights. Normally I scroll as quickly as I can past this sort of thing. But for some reason, I stopped. I stopped and read the quote. And it made quite an impression on me for whatever reason; call it November melancholia*. I was moved by the quote and wanted to know who wrote it so I googled its origins. Surely, I thought, it must have been written by an ancient philosopher, a Spanish poet, or a Russian novelist. But all I could find was a list of quotes about grief on a website that sold urns¹ with the word “Anonymous” next to this one. Could it be that no one knows who wrote these words, and (possibly) worse that it might just be someone average and not some great writer who penned these thoughts?
And if this is indeed the case, does this make my feelings about the quote any less valid? Generally when I grieve I tend to turn to literature², not Facebook. I’m a serious griever–my book collection includes both A Grief Observed (Lewis, 1960) as well as The Grim Reader: Writings on Death, Dying, and Living On. (Spiegel & Tristman Eds., 1997) I think a lot about death and dying, and I sometimes feel as though I fixate on grief. Let’s just say, I’m not only a serious griever, I’m good at it too. And maybe that’s why this quote hit me so hard, because regardless of who wrote it, the person who wrote it understood me and my grieving process. I guess what I’ve discovered is that any words that can help you with sadness and grieving are helpful, in spite of who wrote them, and where they are found. Russian writers don’t have a monopoly on sadness³.
- This is a fantastic, bizarre website, worth checking out even if you’re not in the market for an urn. Here you will find posts like Cremation Urns in Pop Culture right next to Cremation Urn Size Charts.
- For my go-to literature grief fixes, see my post entitled Hudson (2005-2013).
- Tolstoy and Chekhov fans might disagree with this, myself included. Another post, another time.
* I suggested November melancholia might be the reason I was affected by this quotation. If I’m being honest, it’s because of Stan. We lost our kind, gentle friend almost a year ago to suicide and the grief is still strong. His death, and our grief also involved Facebook. If you’re inclined, here are my thoughts on that time.