The most constructive way that I’ve coped with grief has been to observe dark moments of experience — the disorientation, the despair, the distress – and then search for the specific words to describe these moments. Transforming the chaos and confusion into nouns, verbs, and adjectives made me feel more grounded. Verbalization made grief more bearable.

Over time, still grieving, I continued to write. I also continued to read and re-read my past writings. Remembering and reading about past dark moments created feelings of recognition, reliability, and relatability when similar dark moments resurfaced, again and again.

At this point, it’s been just over four years since my husband died.  And now, when I read my past journals and essays, I don’t recognize my former self. That writer feels validating and relatable, but she doesn’t feel like me. Is this yet another paradox of grief? The sadness remains, yet also changes. And those of us in grief remain steadfast in our love and sadness — even while grief also shapes us into new forms.

Grief, like love, never ends. But it changes. And it changes us.