Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.
― Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
Grief comes in more forms. For many, the end of a relationship is like a death. The disillusion of a friendship is a death. The unexpected shattering of a family is a death.
Like love, you can’t know or understand grief until you experience it. The emotional toll it takes on the mind and body is extreme, many unable to cope for weeks or months. While it’s impossible to describe the heaviness grief brings, there are women who have tried to encapsulate it. Women who have experienced intense loss and pain worked to heal themselves through writing about it.
Their recollections and descriptions have not only helped in their healing, but continue to guide and help heal millions of women looking for comfort and solace in the midst of their own heartache and loss.
Denial, as told by Marie Curie
If only I hadn’t let you go out into the rain that day, if only the horse had fallen before it reached you. You are still there, are you not? It is but a dream. A cruel one, tipped with blood like a knife made for the killing. To see you tomorrow – I will wake from this dream and see you tomorrow. Pierre, of all the magic we discovered together, Eve was the most precious.
Anger, as told by Anne Boleyn
I gave you everything, my love, spent all my money on gowns, jewels, goblets, blushed my cheeks with rouge, offered you my body, extra finger and all, called for lavish dinners for you to feast upon. I gave you a child! And still. Still this dishonor, this presentation of my head on a silver platter to your festering mouth. It leaves me every night in a cold sweat. Let it be known: Elizabeth ruled this world better than you ever could. You selfish man. You ugly, selfish, despicable man. I will see your head on a platter in Hell.
Bargaining, as told by The Black Dahlia
They thought I was a store mannequin at first before they discovered I was a corpse. So pretty too, right? You loved that Glasgow smile. I’ll give you this case of moscato. I’ll give you everything that’s left in the safe. The diamonds, the notebooks, the brooch, anything. Don’t let them see me like this. Not with these bruises, these decayed teeth. Let me be known as Elizabeth Short, not by this dark flower. Don’t take my body. Not this. Not this.
Depression, as told by Cleopatra
I know it is false, but I cannot see life without this man. Not without Antony. Of all the joyful moments we spent together – the bet we made about the dinner, when I dissolved my pearl earring in the vinegar – the birth of our twins, even the death of my sister, our plans of revenge and glory were the most beloved. But the asps are ready now. The figs will be tasteless. My breast is bare. Let them take me like they took him.
Acceptance, as told by Georgia O’Keefe
After the breakdown, after the hospitalization, there were skulls, but there were wildflowers too. Painting gave me back the life that had been sucked from me, gave me every new cloud. It wasn’t a man who brought me back to myself. It was the land. It was me. And if I am ever lost again, I will be the one to find myself again.