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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Tidd

Grief, Breaking, and Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club

Updated: 4 days ago

I just discovered author J. Ryan Stradal and after reading "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" (which had a grittiness that took me completely by surprise), I powered through his other two books.

This quote is from "Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club" and, again, I feel like these soft titles don't convey the depth of these books. I highly recommend you check them out.

Here's my standout quote from this book:

"Long ago, she had to give herself permission to break again and again, as often as she damn well pleased, and she knew she'd keep breaking forever. Perhaps it wasn't the only way through grief, but it was hers, and she welcomed it."

Writing that comes close to explaining the inexplicable - like grief - always impresses me. And there are a couple of things about this quote that stuck with me.

First, that grief is a breaking. And that it does happen over and over again, perhaps for the rest of someone's life. At first, it feels like constant breaking and then these moments happen further and further apart while life keeps going in between. It makes me think of a crack in cement where a flower has managed to make a life.

But what is really magical about this quote is the ownership of the personal side of grief. It's so completely individual, which is why we have a hard time (and often stumble over ourselves) when we try to comfort someone else. What was helpful to us might not be helpful to someone else, which is why listening is so important.

To say that her way wasn't the only way through but it was HERS and she welcomed it makes me feel like she is making peace with her grief. She knows it will always be there. She knows that a part of her will always be breaking. She knows that that's now a necessary part of who she is, whether she likes it or not - so might as well shake grief's hand and be friends.

Grief has its purpose and that, too, is different for all of us. Whether it's lessons to be learned, purpose to be found, or even just remembering the person we've lost...all of those things are important and grief helps us to do that if we let it.

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