When we lose someone we love, we become members of the Grief Café. It doesn't matter who died or under what circumstances, we loved them and our hearts are broken and leaking. There are no dues and only one initiation rite, which we've already gone through. A look in the eyes is enough to tell who belongs. But to participate in the Grief Café, you have to open the door.

When we realize that we don't grieve well by ourselves, when we get tired of family and friends desperately sputtering platitudes and muttering of half-baked thoughts, desperately trying to find something helpful to say, we head for where we can find kinship with people who understand.

In the Grief Café, we accept each other as we are. We share what grief is doing in our life today, and we listen to each other. We uncover the way that each of us needs to grieve. We do not say, "It will be okay," because it will never be okay that our loved ones died. We do not say, "It's time that you moved on," because that's something only each person can decide. In community with each other, we find support and strength. We will never give in to death, nor let each other give up.

Members of the Grief Café are not always obvious when we're walking down the street. It's considered creepy to slide up beside strangers and whisper, "Do you grieve?" But begin talking about sorrow or death, and we know which chapter of grief you're in.

At times we may seem indifferent to news of another tragedy because on some days all the death and suffering going on in the world become too much. On some days our own grief overwhelms us and we have to step away for a time. We're not surprised by the news, because we know that many people die unexpectedly, and too many die young, but inside we feel our hearts and spirits drop.

The Grief Café has many members, including some who won't admit that they belong. Come and be where your grief is accepted and honored.



Mark Liebenow is the author of four books. His writings on nature and grief have won awards and been published in numerous journals. Connect with him at markliebenow.com or on Twitter at @MarkLiebenow2.

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