Personal Stories

Grief: The Never-Ending Journey

I took a few days off and went away by myself. I made my 6,000th geocache find (more on that later). My main goal was just being away from people on the 7th anniversary of my daughter’s suicide.

Grief never goes away. I know some people would like to hear some words of wisdom about it, but the truth is it’s always there. I accepted long ago in my life there would be a time when I would be on this earth without my parents. That’s just the natural order of things. Time goes on, people get older, and eventually they die. No one here gets out alive.

I’d lost enough people in my life who were around my age that I knew there was a possibility of losing friends and contemporaries. I’ve lost a lot of them. I can even remember when Danny and his brother died wondering how his parents managed to keep going every day. I knew people could lose their children and that was a nagging fear I had. I put it in the back of my mind, though, as much as possible.

June 20, 2013 was the day I started the worst journey of my life. Some days are good, some days are bad. I have no words of wisdom for how to make it better. Some days I don’t want to get out of bed. I don’t even know why I feel that way a lot of the time. Everything changed that day. I have depression, anxiety, and PTSD to cope with. I cope as best I can.

Right from the beginning I had people telling me how strong I was. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t. Sometimes I would like to just wallow in bed and not move for days on end. What helped was having other children to take care of and to go on in life with. Not everyone is capable of being that strong. There are numerous movies and stories out there about people who were a shell of their former self after losing a child or a partner.

I’m reading Neil Peart’s book Ghost Rider about his grief journey after losing his daughter and his wife within a year of each other. I’ve found a lot of it familiar. You have different parts of your personality at war with each other at times, or one takes over when another falters. His journey “on the healing road” was riding his motorcycle through North America. It’s funny in a way, because that was my first instinct after it happened – to go away for a while. I had kids to take care of and a job that wanted me back after two weeks, so I never got to do that. Still, I found a way to have short “adventures” and seek out things that made me say what a beautiful world it is. I still need to do that. I stopped over the weekend at a field of wild daisies and another of wild lupines, just enjoying seeing them. Other times it’s a stunning view or the bright blue eyes of my granddaughter that uplift me.

I can’t say, though, that what works for me will work for everyone. Indeed, even in the comments on Peart’s book there are people who are looking for answers and he doesn’t give them – he just describes very much what he went through and I understand that. There’s no map to how to cope with grief. It’s different for everyone. Some people have the ability to “be strong” and some people don’t. Even then, there’s plenty of time I don’t want to be strong.

After 7 years, the people who said they’d always be there for you are usually long gone. I read through the comments on my post the other day and wasn’t surprised by the number of people I’m no longer speaking to. Many people want to say something like “release a balloon and let it float away” and think that’s it – it’s over. People don’t want to hear that it’s always there with you. That’s why I go away on the anniversary of her death and her birthday; I can cry and yell and just be sad and don’t have to feel guilty about it. I don’t have to be strong for anyone else.

Last year was a good year. This year, with everything else going on, was harder.

Now I go onward.

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2 replies »

  1. I wish I had words of wisdom to offer you. I don’t. If there were an easy answer, I imagine you’d have found it by now. I can only say that I’m sorry Melinda is gone. I wish you peace and healing, though I know you will always grieve.

    • Thank you. There are no magic words that will make it all different. I wish there was. Closest I have ever found to anyone understanding is Neil Peart’s book because he went through something similar, and reading the comments and reviews on it, people don’t get what it’s like. They expect steps to follow to “make it all better” or something. It’s just learning how to live with it and go on with your life, but the pain is always there.

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