Shaun Usher of Letters of Note calls this missive from Henry James to his grieving friend Grace Norton “one of the greatest letters of advice I’ve ever had the fortune to read.” Coming from someone who has posted over 700 hand-selected letters to his Tumblr so far, after scanning through countless others, that really means something.
“Sorrow comes in great waves — no one can know that better than you — but it rolls over us, and though it may almost smother us it leaves us on the spot and we know that if it is strong we are stronger, inasmuch as it passes and we remain,” writes James. “It wears us, uses us, but we wear it and use it in return; and it is blind, whereas we after a manner see. My dear Grace, you are passing through a darkness in which I myself in my ignorance see nothing but that you have been made wretchedly ill by it; but it is only a darkness, it is not an end, or the end. Don’t think, don’t feel, any more than you can help, don’t conclude or decide — don’t do anything but wait.”