8 months today

I can’t believe 8 months has passed since my son’s accident.  I wasn’t watching the calendar, but should have realized as the physical pain and emotions began to build yesterday.  One thing that is different though – the memories of the accident day haven’t gone away but they do have blurry edges……..  

Last week, a friend offered to help me look through the last box of my son’s belongings.  I had been saving that last box; probably the same impulse that makes me delay reading the last chapter of a really good book – because I don’t want it to end.  But it was time.    

What an odd experience – I was in the moment and I was also watching myself

……..holding his Boy Scout shirt; reading little notes that he wrote; getting teary looking at the old photos; smiling at finger-paintings from 1982; and laughing out loud at his 8-year-old Christmas list (He cut pictures from every catalog he could find, stuffed them inside a manila envelope and wrote on the front: all i want is in here)

a wonderful flood of bittersweet memories

 And I kept thinking, “Why didn’t I save more of his things?”  

Maybe we need to live each day in a way that celebrates the present.  Is that the lesson I need to understand??


out of step

Isolation is such a circular process. 

There are times when I need to be alone, so I withdraw into my head – to think, to remember, or to just be.  

After a while, I become aware of my isolation, and the loneliness creeps in.  I feel heavy – as if I am draped in sadness; and I am convinced that no one could understand how this feels.  At these times, I’m so tired of being in pain, I start projecting my self-disgust on other people.  I have to force myself to reach out and break the solitude. Even then, the support of family and friends can’t always reach that place deep inside where it hurts.

just hanging on   

Getting through the day without breaking down is now a bit easier.  When I reach the point where it gets to be too much – I can “hide” in plain sight.  I stay in the bubble and try not to think, feel, or deal with anything painful or controversial.  It feels safe there: no fatigue or tears, but also no laughter  – and no strong emotion of any kind.   I just realized today that I spent the last 3 days there.

 “The pain of grief never really goes away. Healing is not a cure (there is no cure for grief).  Healing means facing the future with acceptance, gratitude and hope.”   Grieving God’s Way by Margaret Brownley




There are days when I feel so broken that I want to plead with God – – to cry out to him  – – that I’m not ready to let my son go.  I wake in a panic, afraid that I’ve lost him forever, because I can’t remember the sound of his voice, or his laugh.  My struggle is to find peace in knowing that my son and I will be together again in a new place (he just gets to go there first). 

I wonder if it is true that when you lose a loved one, your mind forgets things so your heart doesn’t keep breaking over, and over again.

Life will never be the same – I will never be the same; I’ve simply lost too much.  And yet, I look around and see all that I’ve been given.  I’m just not sure how to reconcile this realization with the pain in my heart.  I’m constantly reminded: if you give God the pieces, he can take anything broken and make it whole again.  That is my prayer

“The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:17-18





healing music

Music has always been my greatest joy, and a source of comfort.  I find solace in a melody, and meaning in a lyric.  But in the midst of grieving for my son, I found myself unable to sing.  Whenever I opened my mouth, sadness and loss poured out and choked me.  Maybe this happens because music emanates from the soul?  I found a quote that made sense: “Music moves us as it can bypass reasoning, getting to our deepest memories and what we hold dear..” from Music Over a Lifespan by Rictor Noren(Psychology Today). 


I try not to dwell on the accident, but my mind wanders back there.  I’ve pored over the death certificate, especially details for cause of death.  Like any mothers, I need to understand what my son experienced; and if he felt any pain.   This is where I hang on to my faith.  I believe he wasn’t alone when he died.  I believe that he felt no pain, and that he saw only beauty.  And, now he is home.

I reached a point where I was so very tired of telling the story. With each telling, I opened the scab and I returned to that dark, dark place.  So, now I work hard at being “normal” and moving through my days incognito (If you didn’t know me; I’d look just like the next person shopping, doing errands and interacting with strangers).  But, the intensity required to keep such tight control is a strain: tension builds, muscles tighten and i find myself swallowing often – as if I could keep this swirling mass of emotion from rising in my throat.

 The song seems to capture the vice-like hold that grief has:

“Something always brings me back to you.  It never takes too long.  No matter what I say or do I’ll still feel you here ’til the moment I’m gone.

 Set me free, leave me be. I don’t want to fall another moment into your gravity.Here I am and I stand so tall, just the way I’m supposed to be.But you’re on to me and all over me.

  You loved me ’cause I’m fragile. When I thought that I was strong. But you touch me for a little while and all my fragile strength is gone.

 Set me free, leave me be. I don’t want to fall another moment into your gravity.  Here I am and I stand so tall, just the way I’m supposed to be.  But you’re on to me and all over me.”

Gravity by Sara Bareilles

lifelong journey

In the midst of despair, being reminded that tomorrow is another day provides no comfort because it’s hard to believe tomorrow will be any better.” Surviving Grief and Tragedy – The Spark Within, by Michael Josephson  

I was confused when people told me I was “getting better.”   Yes, I was less distracted; I could read a few sentences; and remember a few more things.  But, I didn’t feel better.  My heart hurt.

Prayers – so many prayers – for healing, and then waiting for whatever was next.  When I had a good day, I was convinced that I was starting into the next phase – moving on towards “better.”  That made the bad days all the more devastating.

the big a ha

Weeks went by before I it finally hit me: there are no milestones, no half-way points, and certainly no end to this process.  This is a  lifelong journey that feels like scaling vertical rock face.  I have to decide if I choose life.  And I get to choose – every single day –how I want to live that life.  

Andy Warhol said, “They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

soul shattering


Losing a child has been described as a “soul shattering nightmare.”  It actually feels like a war.  I’m fighting to gather back every piece myself… all of those bits that flew in a million different directions.   I need those because I’m trying to put myself back together.

Just after he died, sweet memories of my son comforted me.  But they cut much too deeply – like jagged-edged jewels.  Over time, they’ve become easier to look at and hold close.  

There are days when I can’t find the memories, hear his voice, or see his face.  Other days, there are no words – all I can manage is to sit and stare.  It is comforting, but a bit startling to look up, see darkness and realize that 6 hours passed.

lyrics to a song by Sara Bareilles perfectly captures these feelings: 

“No words, My tears won’t make any room for more, And it don’t hurt like anything I’ve ever felt before, this is no broken heart, No familiar scars, This territory goes uncharted…

Each day, countin’ up the minutes, till I get alone, ’cause I can’t stay In the middle of it all, it’s nobody’s fault, but I’m so low, never knew how much I didn’t know,  Oh, everything is uncharted.  I know I’m getting nowhere, when I only sit and stare like…I’m going down..”    Uncharted by Sara Bareilles