Grief, The Sea, and Me

prose about loss

2 min readFeb 9, 2023

“Grief is the sea.” -ABC’s Not Dead Yet

A picture of ocean waves with well traveled sand in the foreground. The sky is a cloudy sunrise with yellows, oranges, and blue/gray clouds obscuring the sun.
Atlantic Ocean July 2022.

It was July 2022.

After 16 years, I was reunited with the ocean.

But she was not the same

and neither was I.

I was going on three months of unemployment —

the loss of job, the loss of friendships at work, the loss

of my progress at this place where I made a difference,

the loss of the place that took up most of my time and day

weighed on me.

Into the salty waves, and buoy.

Out of the crests and into the sun,

crisping my skin and soul with that Vitamin D.

Receiving a phone call while I am lounging —

my uncle passed away from cancer…

a couple days before his birthday…

while I am in a part of the world he used to reside…

cresting no clue as to where I will land.

Out to the salty waves, and buoy. They take me up.

They bring me down. They bring me under;

I rise up; I splutter. I float then gag.

This tide was not made for floating.

Out of the tide and into the sun,

riding the rays until it is time to turn in.

I muster a message to my cousin

and say a soundless prayer for my uncle.

We return home — the sea, the grief — she stays with me.

I feel her rise as we get a call about our friend

who has passed away because of cancer.

And all the riptides surge within me shouting


crashing upon the remaining berms,

crushing them to collections of granules,

and washing them out to sea.




Librarian and Information Specialist by day. Queer writer of poetry, sensuality, personal experience, and health by night. Instagram @tolbert_on_medium #BLM✊🏿