Trevor Noah on grief…

On my drive from Michigan to Florida, I listened to the end of Trevor Noah’s beautiful memoir, Born a Crime: Stores From a South African Childhood. When he described the pain he felt upon hearing that his mother had been shot in the head, his words resonated with me immediately.

I had to pause the book so I could take in how brilliantly he described my very own pain upon Rick’s death. I have often felt this pain over the past few months, and I had had these very thoughts: how often in my life did I cry over what I now perceive to be nothing in comparison? How many useless boys did I cry over as a teen? How many times did I cry in self-pity over issues that seem minimal now?

Nothing compares to the pain I felt upon losing my soulmate, my lover, my best friend, my world, my Rick.

And then I cried tears as I had never cried before. I collapsed in heaving sobs and moans. I cried as if every other thing I’d cried for in my life had been a waste of crying. I cried so hard that if my present crying self could go back in time and see my other crying selves, it would slap them and say, “That shit’s not worth crying for.’

My cry was not a cry of sadness. It was not catharsis. It wasn’t me feeling sorry for myself. It was an expression of raw pain that came from an inability of my body to express that pain in any other way, shape, or form.

About the author

Katherine Billings Palmer is a technical writer, poet, and essayist from Garden City, Michigan. She’s won several academic writing awards, including first place in the University of Michigan Dearborn Critical Essay Contest for her work about poet John Donne: “‘The Sun Rising’: A Lover’s Boast.”

In 2017, Katherine’s husband, Rick, died of complications from small cell lung cancer. She wrote a series of poems and essays about her struggles to cope with her grief. I Wanted to Grow Old With You is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

Her latest book, A Widow’s Words: Grief, Reflection, Prose, and Poetry – The First Year was published in January 2019 and is also available on

Katherine is a guest blogger for the Hope for Widows Foundation and writes about her grief journey at

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