Right Before

I hate this time of year.

I mean, his birthday is hard. Christmas is hard. The day of his death is hard. All that stuff is hard to deal with. But what’s really shitty are the weeks leading up to the death anniversary. All I can think about is how those days traveled by and we had no idea what was going to happen.

In late January, his hair was getting long. I cut it. I wanted to keep it, so I used my label maker and typed out his name and the date. I wrapped the sticky side around his little lock of hair and stuck it in our windowed cabinet where we display special things. “Jay 1.29.13”. Having no clue that the next time I’d be cutting his hair was because he was brain dead, lying motionless in front of me.

A few days later, I bought a plaster cast for his footprint. Those things aren’t easy to use. I tried relentlessly to get it right, placing his little wiggly foot on it over and over until I thought I had gotten the best we could get. The plaster ended up being flawed. By the time it dried, I had decided that I would buy another one and do it again. “Jay  2/4/13” carved into it. 15 days later his hand would be placed into another one by the hospital staff for us to take home. We didn’t get to leave with our actual son. We left with a handprint. Which, as an aside, was worse than the one I did 2 weeks before.

Facebook’s “On This Day” is particularly difficult. Pictures, status updates, all from this chick with two kids that has no idea what’s around the corner. Every year it’s like having to re-watch a horrible tragedy unfold slowly. “Oh, this is the part where the grandmother visits. Here’s where they take a family photo 3 days before he dies. Here’s the last picture ever taken of him…and they have no idea!!” It’s a vicious fucking rerun that I can’t avoid. Even if I stayed off of Facebook, it’s still in my head. Everything we did before everything changed.

My husband and I discussed how weird it feels this year. It’s been 3 years now. 3 years! It’s hard to fathom he’s been gone that long. There is a coating of dust on his urn as we speak. 3 years in an urn. Unthinkable.

And that’s what it is right now: Unthinkable. For so long I was so steeped in it; it was the only way to feel close to him. Now I feel like I’ve run away for too long. Not on purpose, mind you, but I’ve let myself get out of touch with the grief. It isn’t healthy to do that, at least for me. I find that when I stay away too long, it’s torture when it returns. It’s always better to keep your hand in some grief. Let yourself feel it all the time, just a bit, so you can control it. Turn your back on it, and it will eat you alive when you face it again.  This is exactly what I’ve done, and it’s going to be a bitch to deal with now.

How do you deal with your grief when this anniversary approaches? How do you deal with your grief when it hasn’t been visited for awhile?


About A Life After Loss

I lost my son in 2013. I lost a lot that day, but I never lost it all. I still have hope, albeit it wavers sometimes. I still have my love of writing, and I still have my humor. Let's learn how to do this grief thing right.
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2 Responses to Right Before

  1. Tree says:

    I’ve been reading your entries for a while, and I can’t even imagine the amount of grief you have felt and will feel. My life experiences don’t even come close, and you don’t know me, so they would mean nothing to you even if they had. So my answer to those questions will be inadequate – and maybe you don’t even want an answer, you just want to ask. If that’s the case, please feel free to ignore the rest of this comment.

    I think what I would do in this situation is to let it happen. It’s okay to not feel pain and hurt 24/7. It’s okay to not miserable all the time. Sometimes, grief will smack us in the face when we least expect it. Often, there’s no warning, but when there is a hint of a trigger? I would let it happen. Do whatever you think is the right thing to do, whether it’s celebrating life with the living people still in your life (children and spouse) or locking yourself in your bedroom and crying non-stop for the entire day. Know that it will hurt, and let it hurt you. Give in to it. Take as much time as you need. You might not know how much it is until you’re done feeling it. Sometimes, we feel more pain (emotional or physical) trying to escape the pain than the pain itself.

    This might not work for you, you know your emotional state, how you handle your emotional pain and difficulty, how you can make yourself feel better, FAR better than I (or any other reader of your blog) do(es). Listen to your heart, your soul, your mind, and do what it tells you. I wish you the best.

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