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Anonymous Man Posts Beautiful Reply To A Stranger’s Question About Enduring Grief.

old man on bench

Each day, countless people turn to internet forums to seek guidance, advice, and comradery with their fellow man.

On Reddit, people from all over the world congregate and ask questions of all kinds. Every once in a while, one of those queries receives such an incredible response that it takes your breath away. For one person who went to a self-help subreddit with a simple but heartbreaking question, the reply she received changed her entire way of thinking.

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“My friend just died. I don’t know what to do,” was the title of the thread. Death is never easy to deal with, and the passing of a close loved one often leaves people reeling with powerful emotions they don’t know how to handle. Thankfully, there was one Redditor named GSnow who not only understood what this grieving soul was going through but had some incredible wisdom to impart to help them cope.

GSnow wrote:

Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.


I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter.” I don’t want it to be something that just passes.

My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

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As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.


In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function.

You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.


Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.

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GSnow’s words are filled with powerful imagery that enables us to picture the pain of loss in literal terms. Just thinking of the waves of grief as just that, waves, helps us see that even the most daunting of crashing waves will eventually ebb and flow back out to the sea. There’s always a way over the wave, and we’ll always endure the fray.

This is another reason to love the internet and the sense of community we can find here. It’s heartening to know that we can ask an emotionally raw question like this, and receive sage words from someone whom we would likely never meet in public.

Please share GSnow’s incredibly moving and thoughtful words to help someone you know over the next wave.

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