An Open Letter to You on the Worst Day of Your Life - Kate Bowler

Complicated Grief and Complicated Love with

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An Open Letter to You on the Worst Day of Your Life

My Dear,

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. That is the most important thing. This broken world should offer you an apology and it never does. So I’d like to say it to make sure you know that you deserve an apology. This is awful…just awful. I don’t know why people are determined to make you feel like a loser when you want to cry, but it’s ridiculous. Go ahead and cry. This is miserable.

You are loved. Do you know that? You are dearly loved. The world is full of people who truly love you, and, if you’re interested in my opinion on the matter, I believe that God loves you most of all. You are deeply loved because of who you are. There is no one like you, and each outrageous detail of your existence is a treasure and a gift that only you can give. When something awful happened to me, I started to feel confused about whether I was the mistake. I hope you don’t feel that way.

You are not a mistake. You are irrevocably loved. 

I shudder to repeat here what you already know, but it must be said. Despite the presence of beautiful people everywhere, the world is no longer safe for you. You see, your tragedy has revealed an uncomfortable truth about life itself. When people see you, they are reminded that life is not fair. Life is fleeting and fragile and sometimes utterly awful, and even admitting that is like shining a flashlight in people’s eyes. You are too bright. And people prefer the darkness. People who really love you will try and see things as you do, but for the most part they will think about dinner and Facebook and cat videos. They can’t see much in the dark, but they will try.

There is something you are already figuring out and I want to encourage you to do it. You must discover what is possible now that the terrible thing has happened. This will involve balancing two opposing ideas:

1) You are about to be steamrolled by circumstances completely out of your control.

2) You can change anything you set your mind to. People will want to feed you story after story to convince you that nothing is possible or everything is possible.

Both are awful and I wish I could turn down the volume for you. Those ideas are incredibly shouty. It is true that almost nothing is in your control, but the key word for you, today, is almost.

Start with the little things. Are you tired? Take a nap. Do you like bad TV? Pop the popcorn. Do you have energy for that tiresome phone-call? Make it. You must be gentle with yourself and you must treat this moment like a discovery. What is possible today? Attend to your own minutes.

The world is changed, dearheart, but take courage. As my sister told me on a very bad day, “You are loved, you are loved, you are loved. You will not disappear. You are here.” Onwards.

With much love,

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Deanna Thompson
5 years ago

What a gift for those worst days. And you are so very loved. Amen.

Kelly Gilmer
5 years ago

I needed this tender and tough message today. Thank you

5 years ago

Thank you so much.

Elaine Lewis
5 years ago

I, too, needed to hear these words today. Thank you. God bless you as you keep on your journey!

5 years ago

Simply amazing. The same thing my pastoral grief counselor told me after I lost my dear sweet mother and struggled–and STILL struggle–to make sense of the world.

5 years ago

I fill alone most of my day.and all of my night. Its like i Cant due nothing right any more.i all ways make somebody mad.i just want too be Loved.maybe someday i will find my True Love.SomeDay.

Jim Fitzgerald, Jr.
5 years ago

Dear Kate, Your words are a Blessing. Just to be clear: “Blessed is a loaded term because it blurs the distinction between two very different categories: gift and reward. It can be a term of pure gratitude. ‘Thank you, God. I could not have secured this for myself.’ But it can also imply that it was deserved. ‘Thank you, me. For being the kind of person who gets it right,’” “Death, the Prosperity Gospel and Me,” Kate Bowler, NY Times, Feb. 13, 2016. Your words are a gift from God that I could not have secured for myself. Thanks, Kate.… Read more »

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