A Wintering Wasp Nest of Grief

In grief, every date on the calendar is the same: empty and cold

Jenny Harrington
Human Parts
Published in
3 min readNov 10, 2023

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Photo by Jenny Harrington

Wet, amber leaves litter the ground. The damp, wooded petrichor odors and chromatic hues filtering through dead branches remind me to pull out linen tablecloths and light candles. If it weren’t for the rotting forest catching up and tapping me on the shoulders, mirroring my insides, I’d forget to rummage through the garage for holiday decorations. In grief, every date on the calendar is the same: empty and cold.

But come November, when Bigleaf maple leaves, larger than my cracked, splayed-out hands, crunch underfoot, I am alerted to a particular change. The fallen leaves, drained of chlorophyll and growing spotty and diseased, and the daily barrage of Instagram inspirational quotes declare this to be the season to practice gratitude and praise yuletides. No, thank you. I am all filled up on fuck-yous for Thanksgiving. Holidays are tricky in grief.

Nearing winter, my grief becomes an active wasp nest. Frantic and aggressive emotions swarm in and out of the single entrance to my pulp hive mind. Instead of chewed-up wood mixed with saliva, my nest is made of my own flesh and tears. My exterior is crusty-hard, and yet paper-fragile and thin-layered. I am desperate to stay attached to my child. Memories of him are my home. Gratitude…

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Jenny Harrington
Human Parts

Author, researcher, mother living on an island near Seattle. Now, notably, an international bunny smuggler. Find her struggles and snuggles at www.teamewan.com