I’m sorry, and welcome.

Welcome? Sorry you’re here? This isn’t a website anyone gets excited to visit. But in time, I hope it can be a place you can stop by when you need comforting.

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My name is Jen. I’ve always been a writer. My main gig is over here, which I started as a passion project to talk about slowing down and enjoying the beauty of life. What frequently happened, however, is that I was never motivated to talk about slowing down.

Instead, I kept talking about grief & loss.

Exhibit A. B. C. D.

I could keep going. Feel free to search the term “grief” over there and you’ll see for yourself — it’s most of what I write about. My albatross. I resisted this for a long time. It felt like a burden, dark work I wasn’t ready to take on.

Grief is a condition I know well. In fact, perhaps my entire life has been been a set up to get me to talk about grief.

My beloved grandmother, the most important person in my life and the only other writer in my family, died when was I was eleven. My baby sister died when I was thirteen. My grandfather died a week later (in the same year, which is just cruel). In 2011, my life as I knew it was destroyed abroad when I lived through the Fukushima earthquake. A year later, I had the saddest breakup of my life. (He eventually came back.) My parents split in 2014, right before I got married.

After that, life was okay for a while. I think the universe was like, Hey, maybe we gave this girl enough for a bit. Let’s give her five years off.

So it did. My husband and I got married, had a beautiful daughter, and spent five happy years together. And then, on November 16, 2019, my 26 year-old brother — who was perfect, stubborn, and beautiful — fell in a freak accident, hit his head, and died.

My beautiful brother Tim.

The confusion and anger and despair that his death created in all of us is not something that can be described. The only thing I had to hang onto during that horrific time is that I had felt deep grief before. She (I think grief is a girl, but you can call it whatever feels right for you) is an old friend.

Though deeper and darker than any grief I’d experienced before, there was a familiarity in those shockwaves I felt as they careened through me.

Hello grief. It’s been a while.

Five weeks later, I was taking a shower and thought to myself, People should take a Grief Year, the way they take a Gap Year. They could spend the year creating an atlas of grief.

I don’t know where this thought came from. Right after, I realized, A year isn’t long enough. People don’t need a Grief Year. They need Grief Years.

So welcome to The Grief Years, an exploration of grief. It’s a place where we can share stories of our ghosts. Where we can talk about how much we ache, and how we’ll never be the same. Where we can share the stories of hope and connection that come after someone dies.

And mostly, I hope you come to see that there’s a weird sort of beauty to grief, making us treasure the preciousness is life in a way we don’t during happier times.

♥️

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