Making a List

How the Bereaved Keep Score

Kellyn Shoecraft
7 min readDec 13, 2019
When I visualize my grief underbelly it’s on the set of a film noir —
preferably with a light mist or drizzle. Photo Credit: Movie Still from Third Man

There is a grief underbelly: a dark and damp place swirling with thoughts that many grievers have but are too ashamed to admit. If these thoughts are ever spoken aloud it’s almost never in every-day conversation with ordinary people.

Instead, you may hear them uttered in the safe spaces of grief groups or in an honest conversation between grievers when they feel free of judgment. This is where you realize that the thoughts you were previously ashamed of are actually not shameful at all, and a lot of people are thinking the same things as you.

One of the more common reactions to a life-altering event is keeping score. The bereaved maintain a mental list of the people who have not done what was expected (like those guilty of sympathy by proxy) or those who have let them down in whatever way, and they will waste a lot of mental energy thinking about these people.

Illusration credit: author

If there were ever a time in your life where you shouldn’t be keeping score, it’s when you’re grieving. When you are deep in grief your brain physically hurts — processing everything that comes with your loss is exhausting and overwhelming. But in one of life’s cruel little…



Kellyn Shoecraft

Navigating sibling & parent loss and trying to change the way people support each other in grief. Founder at