Wednesday, September 13, 2017

It Is Well

photo by BARTLETTcreative

By Maggie Bartlett

Recently, a dear friend suddenly announced that she would be moving, and soon. While this new adventure was certainly exciting, it left me reeling as I tried to quickly adjust to the news. She was one of my closest Denver friends and a soul sister—a place where I felt safe and loved in scary and hard things. Panicked about her move, I thought about other friends who could possibly “replace” her companionship. She wasn’t dying and would only be a phone call away, but I wondered how could I fill the gaping hole she would inevitably leave behind? 

My dad passed away two years ago. As my family stepped into our third year without him, I noticed a shift in my grief. It didn’t go away or “get better,” I simply recognized that after he died, we were unknowingly racing around to fill his void—with all sorts of things. I finally grasped that my mom couldn’t be both my mom and my dad. She could only be my mom. I understood that my mom could not hope that her children or friends would be the voice of reason and wisdom that my dad was for her. No one else could fill that space the way he did.

We are given a unique place here on earth. We cannot be replaced nor easily forgotten by our family and friends. And, I can’t bend and mold another friendship to fit in the precise hole my friend left behind. I’m not able to borrow and steal qualities from others to make up for the gap my dad left. 

Part of grieving is eventually acknowledging the empty space left by a loved one. 

I knew he was not coming back but that’s such a cruel and vicious truth to accept. It’s much easier to distract yourself from the void, desperately trying to fill it, than to let it be.

So, when we just let the void be, what’s left? Is it a reminder that we aren’t in control? That we are finite? That we must hold all things loosely? Maybe. But maybe it's more delicate and gentle than that. 

In loss, we are reminded of the beautiful gift we were given and that we were forever changed by their presence, richer for our memories and journey alongside them. 

We’re given a quiet and sacred power to carry with us and stabilize us in a disorderly world. And, our other gifts become more precious and dear to us.

I suspect it’s something different for each person, though. As we face various forms of loss—a loved one, a job, health, stability, dreams—we find our own sense of hope and peace in the absence…eventually.

For me, this small step forward in acknowledging, understanding and even embracing the void left by my friend and my dad is a teeny, tiny stride toward claiming: “It is well with my soul.” It’s not fully well with me today. It probably won’t be well tomorrow either. The thought is almost alarming. That a loss so devastating could ever be well? Yet, declaring that truth amid pain might actually be a form of worship and praise. It’s almost an act of defiance against the enemy, choosing to praise Him in the absence rather than be swallowed up by tears. We can embrace loss, proclaim and cling to his truth and fight to believe It. Is. Well. 

photo by BARTLETTcreative

“All is well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
                                                             – Julian of Norwich

May it be well with your soul, too.

Maggie Bartlett is a Colorado native, living in Denver with her husband. She works at a marketing agency and loves to write, climb mountains and travel in her free time.


  1. Maggie, such well thought and spoken words. Thank you for sharing. I am amazed at His power to keep picking us up and telling us to go forward and to carry with us all that has affected us. Both joy and grief. It all becomes one. Love you!

    1. Thanks, Nan. Just seeing this. Appreciate your love and support. Here we are, still, after all this!