‘Grief is an emotion we feel with a soft heart’

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Heather Riggs took this picture of her backyard and felt the grass beneath her feet to remind her to breathe and grieve.
By Rev. Heather Riggs

Today I’m feeling the grief.

For the beloved people who have died in this past year.

For the loss of the hope for some kind of return to normal that was snatched away by the Delta variant.

For the unnecessary suffering brought on by anti-science misinformation.

For how much my clergy and non-profit leader friends are hurting.

For the women of Afghanistan.

For the people of Haiti and people all around the world suffering because of climate change and desperate poverty.

For my children’s generation who are entering into adulthood in this mess.

For parents who desperately need in-person school to work and are desperately afraid that it won’t be safe.

For those who have lost the capacity for compassion – I grieve for the damage they do to their own souls as well as to everyone else.

I am grateful for my ability to feel grief.

Grief is a healthy emotion.

Grief is an emotion that we feel with a soft heart.

Grief and vulnerability are so often the fragile center around which the hard shell of anger is formed to protect us.

Anger isn’t evil. Anger can be helpful sometimes in giving us enough security to move forward. But anger can also egg us on to lash out in a preemptive strike – to attack those whom we fear might hurt us, before or after they do.

Allowing myself to feel the grief, outside in the peace of my private backyard, is like walking barefoot in soft, green grass. A little scary. A lot comforting. Startling in it’s cool freshness.

Just breathe.


Rev. Heather Riggs is an ordained elder in the Pacific Northwest Conference currently serving the people of Oak Grove United Methodist Church in southeast Portland. This prayer/poem was shared from her Facebook page with her permission.

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