The Great Loss


“Did Great-Grandpa really fight in the Great War?”

“He did.”

“What made it great, Mama?”

She sighed. This place’s heaviness only settled thicker during the holidays. She’d come every year on Christmas as a child. Too infrequently since. The ocean’s breeze whipped hair into the boy’s eyes and she tucked a lock behind his ear. He so reminded her of herself.

“Grandma Rose said it was because the Heavens everywhere lit with the great number of souls and broken hearts. The Great Loss, she called it.”

“A lot of Christmas angels, Mama?”

“Perhaps so.”

“I think Great-Grandpa is one, though.”



Note: Dedicated to all who are missing loved ones during the holidays, to all who are no longer with us for they’d given their lives (or parts of their souls) for others, in search of peace, in hope of no more war or hate or greed. May we do better, as a species. Let there be true peace on Earth.


For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

(Thank you Sandra Cook for the evocative photo prompt!)



35 thoughts on “The Great Loss

    • It is an actual question a child asked me once … even if my answer wasn’t exactly the same as the one in the story … I asked the kid right back what they thought it meant (a tactic I employ often …), and the child responded: “because they thought they were great?”
      Close enough. …
      But we did speak then about the additional ways people had used the word “great” to mean “big” rather than “good.” That made sense to him.
      Still, kids do ask excellent questions and his answer wasn’t far from the truth …

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Na’ama Y’karah,

    Sweet, poignant and tragic all rolled into 100 well-written words. BTW, I’m named from my Grandma Rose (Rookhel as my Ashkenazi family pronounced it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) Again, lovely tribute. Sadly neither The Great War nor the one after that was the war to end all wars.




  2. This line says it all: ” …because the Heavens everywhere lit with the great number of souls and broken hearts. The Great Loss, she called it.โ€ What a beautiful way to explain it to a child. I just might have to write this one down and keep it. Beautifully written…shoulda come with a tissue alert! sniffles. Lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jellico!
      I was thinking of the skies lighting up with the horrible flashes of artillery and the realities that those defined the sorrows and losses and destruction. The lights of war are the lights of souls shattering. Like the flashes of gunfire. War is terrible. It is among the hardest thing to describe to children, and it is liable to break something in them, no matter how gently we go about it.
      Thank you for this comment (as for those tissues… ;)).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I love how you worded this response. It fits so well! I still remember the war stories my Gr. Grandpa, foster Dad’s, and the Vets at the Legion hall felt they could share with me. Their history lesson was far more informative than any history class at school. I’m trying to remember those stories now, and to write them down in some form.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I hope you do manage to do that, because the stories of history are stories worth telling. If we are to learn from history, we need to know it first, and all too often the stories that end up being told publicly or at schools are woefully selective and tell only a very small sliver of the whole.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That is so true. I especially know of one about our “Thanksgiving” that doesn’t at all show the reality. The reality is very tragic and filled with the death of many thousands… but, that part is never told.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanksgiving is a good thing in general, though the ‘story behind the holiday’ as it is depicted is woefully historically incorrect, and has embedded in it the minimization and trivialization (if not total dismissal and misrepresentation) of the reality of First Nations and the Indigenous people of America before it was called America. So, yes, telling the untold and under-told stories is, in my view, a responsibility. Similar to a project of recording and transcribing and archiving and collating the stories of sharecroppers, and of holocaust survivors, and internment victims, and of victims of sex trafficking and current-day slavery. Their voices matter. All voices matter.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sandra. Yes, children will ask, won’t they? Often about expressions and idioms and words that should not be understood literally, but sometimes in that they’ll highlight something about the way we use language in ways that not fit, or that broadcast euphemisms or ways some think about things. Too many do indeed glorify war, and while the use of ‘great’ here was meant by most as ‘enormous/big/massive’ – there are all too many who did have a layer of glorification in it … and children will pick up on these … and if allowed to, will ask …


  3. Just the first 3 lines , carry the weight of the past 120 years

    โ€œDid Great-Grandpa really fight in the Great War?โ€

    โ€œHe did.โ€

    โ€œWhat made it great, Mama?โ€

    Just that ,……is more than enough…..

    Liked by 1 person

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