Grief in the Desert

Since Rob died, the place I’ve most wanted to visit was the desert. We traveled more than 30,000 miles together road tripping in our camper, and the desert was one of our favorite places to camp. Whenever I feel overwhelmed with my new life, I long to be sitting in this spot again.

I love that to the casual observer everything looks dead in the desert. People associate the desert with scarcity, and so they avoid it. Too hot. Too dry. Too empty. Maybe it’s the contrarian in me, but I love the desert even more because of this. It weeds out the casual lovers.

The desert environment is anything but empty. Sure, it doesn’t rain much. But it’s filled with vibrant life and even water, if you know where to look. Snakes, insects and small mammals thrive there. Cryptobiotic soil amazingly holds the habitat together. Stunning quiet drapes itself over the whole landscape. A jar of red desert sand sits on the windowsill in my kitchen to remind me of this place I love.

Why do I crave the desert in my grief? What makes this seemingly harsh environment appealing in my sorrow? As I look at its landscape, I see myself — parched, empty, uninhabitable. The desert is a mirror for my heart. I want to go there to be alone with the quiet. To yell and weep into the canyon and hear my voice echo back to me.

I also seek out the desert because I know that, beyond the casual glance, life thrives there. Not a lush, green, cookie-cutter-front-lawn kind of life, but one that is still vibrant. The desert life adapts, tenaciously hangs on. It’s the life, in the midst of grief, I’m longing for.

Published by Clarissa Moll

Discovering grace in grief

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