Day 6: Kindness

A friend called me up and asked if I’d like to take a walk today. She shows me kindness in all sorts of ways. She has boxes of tea delivered to my door. She takes my daughter out for ice cream. She drops off books on grief (like It’s OK That You’re NOT OK). Today, we walked through a wooded park then over to a town square. We passed a coffee shop. Inside, we bought cups of tea. I paid as my way of acknowledging her kindness — kind for kindness. We walked on with tea in our to-go cups. A child riding her bike passed us by. I recognized the child; she had been in my son’s class. The girl’s name reminding my friend of a story. She shared that childhood friend of hers who died in a head-on car collision.  The truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and the truck jumped the media and hit them from the opposite direction her friend and his wife died instantly. Their ten-month-old baby in back survived. For 2 minutes, as I listened, I forgot about my grief and listened to her as she shared sadness and tragedy.

That’s kindness. Seeing and being seen. Sharing and listening. Extending a hand, making a call. Not being alone. Companionship over a cup of tea. Kindness takes two and takes thoughtfulness.  But I can be alone and be kind. It is extending a hand to my sad self. Listening to my sad self’s story and offering my own shoulder to cry on.


Touching in to your grief can be brutal. Even when the pain never leaves you, sometimes purposely turning to face it can be exceptionally hard.

So today, let’s focus on kindness.

For all you have been through, for all you have seen, kindness:

Let me be to my sad self hereafter kind.” – Peter Pouncey, Rules for Old Men Waiting: A Novel


Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved, all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you, how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow. You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere like a shadow or a friend.

“Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye, from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems.
© Eighth Mountain Press, 1995.


Prompt 6:

What would it mean to offer kindness to yourself in your grief? What would kindness look like?
How do you, or how would you, “be to my sad self hereafter kind”?

From Megan Devine’s refuge in grief, Write Your Grief, Grief Writing Course


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