Good Grief Geese

As a bird watcher and lover of nature in general I could not help but think of the natural instincts of geese as I sat through 3 beautiful weddings this month. Early in my own marriage my husband had given me a lovely gold pin created by a Maine jeweler titled “Geese Mate for Life”. Did you know that geese mate for life? It is just one of the reasons why I love this bird. Not to mention that young William would walk around the house imitating their call “ga-LEEK ga-LEEK” in a high-pitched voice. 

When it comes to grief humans should be more like geese. Their devotion to not only their partner, but their entire flock is incredibly inspiring. They illustrate perfectly the notion of “many hands make light work”. Grief work is the hardest you will ever do. If there is ever a time for a need of loving and supportive companionship it’s when someone we love dies.

Geese have a few other instincts that we can all learn from. Look up. It’s this time of year with winter in their cry that geese are flying in “V” formation. Their journey is a long one. They do it together for a reason. The flapping of their individual wings allows the bird behind them to have a bit of an uplift making the flight less of a burden. The difficult journey is made more bearable. No one need or should travel a grief journey alone. Accept support. 

Once in awhile a goose falls out of formation. (Oh, those angry years.) It immediately will feel the drag and difficulty of flying alone. What does the flock do? A pair will drop from the “V” and follow the wayward goose to support and protect it until it is able to continue on its own. It’s a through thick and thin kind of friendship. It’s the bond of love and compassion at its best. Just hold your friends up when they can’t hold themselves.  

Now one thing is for sure. A griever can be super high maintenance. The journey is long. No one person can care for and protect you. When the goose at the point, the one leading the journey, gets tired he/she falls back and let’s another take over. He/she is exhausted and needs comfort. It is wise to understand that no one person can bear the burden of your grief. Take a cue from the geese and expand your flock.

There are times in life when we must rely on each other. Times when we need to be connected and encouraged. We need to honk like the geese to show our mutual support and love otherwise we end up traveling alone. Make room for your partner in life and a few trusted family and friends. 

To everyone: Be the Goose

As a side note, one of William’s favorite movies was “Top Gun” starring Tom Cruise as the character Maverick. His wing man was aptly named “Goose”. 

With the holidays on the horizon you might be expecting a recipe for goose, but that ain’t happening here. I love geese, but not on my dinner plate. So, I looked back in my arsenal of recipes and thought I’d share one from a family cookbook that my cousins and I put together many years ago. My extended family are totally a flock of geese. They have been there for me on so many occasions, but it was aunt Faye who rescued me in times of trouble during elementary school. Back then we walked to school and mid-day took a break for lunch. Aunt Faye lived only a few doors from the school and rather than me walking the long route home in the rain and snow she’d invite me in for a warm bowl of her pastina. How lucky was I to have the love and support of Aunt Faye. Here is her recipe as written in our family cookbook. 

Aunt Faye’s Famous Pastina

1 pound pastina

2 eggs


Parmesan cheese

Salt & Pepper

Boil pastina till tender. Drain and add 2 eggs, butter and parmesan cheese Salt and pepper to taste.

Okay…for all you cooks who like clear-cut quantities just go with your instincts. Be Italian for 5 minutes and add a spoonful of this or a pinch of that. Be the Goose! 

28 thoughts on “Good Grief Geese

    • Thank you, Marcie. I know you can relate. I am honored to have you share my writing on your FB page. Much love to you.

  1. One of the things I love the most about you, Lisa (and there are many reasons why I do, of course), is that you never just talk the talk but that you also walk the walk. One of the most comforting times I experienced following Meghan’s death was the day you joined me in Westover’s Common Room for a one-on-one get-together just a week or two after Meghan’s funeral. I knew, even then, that it could not have been easy for you to be present for me, because your own grief over the loss of Will was still fresh and deep and painful. Your gift of support and understanding that day lifted me up then and continues to do so. And the gift of your example, I hope, has made me a better source of support for those others who have joined us in this shared experience of losing a child, as well as being a source of support for others who grieve. I have come to learn, as I suspect that you have as well, that helping to bear others up in their grief somehow makes it easier to steady and bear the weight of our own losses. Grief may endure, but so does love, especially when it is replenished by the supportive love of others.

      • That is what I meant by “thrive” … to be doing things (like TED talks and blog posts in your case and in Facebook essays in mine) that were not in our plans, but also to thrive by continuing to celebrate our love for our children in an almost defiant way – both in defiance of our grief and in defiance of some social construct that expects those who grieve to be silent (sorry, I may be sounding more militant than I intend).

    • Best easy comfort food there is. I used orzo here and sometimes I cook the pasta in chicken broth. The more butter and cheese the best.

  2. Vince and I are big bird lovers too and a couple weeks ago I watched a large flock of geese and two smaller ones flying in the familiar V formation. I saw it as a good indication that they knew summer was over too. I love your connection with geese broods and grief. And the Top Gun Goose tie-in, you’re amazing! And so is your Aunt’s simple recipe. I’ll be making this for sure. ❤️

    • Goose of Top Gun was always my favorite character. He was completely devoted to his family and always supportive of Maverick no matter the cost.

    • Thanks…I was thinking of your dad and Stephanie at one point when I was writing this. I can never thank them enough for the tending of that tragic site.

  3. What lovely thoughts you relate about geese … and how they parallel life. Heartwarming … as is your Aunt’s pastina memory. It reminded me of stopping at my grandmother’s for lunch too, as she lived right across the street from my elementary school. She made me egg drop chicken soup with carrots and thin noodles. It’s a soup that my daughters eventually dubbed ‘magic soup’ bc I always made it for them when they were sick – and it always ‘cured them.’ Now my grandchildren agree. I’m betting you make pastina for Annabelle, too. Like geese, I guess our flock is always with us, if not in person … in spirit.

    • I think I am going to need your egg drop chicken soup recipe as it sounds heavenly and healing…we do live in a parallel universe you and I ❤

  4. Beautifully written Lisa, as usual. You certainly have a way with words…and the recipes are the icing on the cake! PS: I’m happy and blessed to be part of your “flock”. ❤

    • You are the best example of a tried and true friend carrying so much more than your shoulders should be able to handle. I hear you “honking” on a regular basis. ❤

  5. Loved your “Good Grief Geese” analogy! You always have such a way with your words to bring comfort to those of us who grieve the loss of someone they loved.
    And that pastina recipe is going to be a great side dish for us very soon! Thank you for sharing it!

    • Glad you find my words comforting. Thank you for letting me know. I think writing offers me comfort, but that it extends beyond me makes it all the more worth it. Peace ❤

  6. Dear Lisa,

    Loved the sweet story…looking forward to seeing you this week. Hope Caitlin and family are doing well! XO, Nanee


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