Tuesday, January 3, 2017

On loss, grief and hope

It's been a shit of of a time lately.  I am just going to lay it all out there.

My mother died two years ago this April.  She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer too late and although she fought harder than we will ever understand for another four years with us it was not to be.  Her death was cruel and prolonged and unforgivable.   She died when I was six months pregnant with my son, a baby she never got to feel kick, a grandson she never got to meet. I wish for her help and guidance every day. I wish for my mother. Wish is not the proper word. I suffer for want of it.

I feel our loss harder this year than last. I am better understanding fully every day what I have lost, what my son lost, what my father lost in losing his mate.

I had another miscarriage last month, a week after my birthday.

And then my grandpa died on New Year's Eve.  He was 90 years old.  Laid down in his own bed and didn't wake up again.  Grandpa was one of the great heroes in my life.  I could not have possibly loved him more and he knew that.  He was among other things a farmer and an outdoorsman and took me along with him everywhere when I was little. He was one of the people in my life that shone like the sun.  I can barely talk about this.

He left behind his wife of 64 years and a large family.  My grandmother has advanced dementia and must go to a nursing home for her own safety.  The farm where I spent my childhood will be sold. The barn and fields I played in gone.  The porch where my grandmother and I would shell peas and the kitchen where we baked bread, gone.  The high lonely ridge my father and I hunt on each year which overlooks a creek, gone. These things are necessary and unavoidable and horrible.

I joke that I come from stoic people.  My people do not air their laundry.  I am normally private on this blog.  Possibly I will feel embarrassed by this post.  Probably later I will take it down.

I am sharing this because I know I am not the only person out there who is dealing with loss this holiday season. I am probably misremembering the details but I am reminded of a story  about a woman who pleads to Buddha to bring a child back who she has lost.  He replies "if you bring me just a single mustard seed from a house that has known no suffering I will restore your child".  She is elated by the promise but as she goes from door to door begging for salvation at each one finds she a family that has lost someone precious.

Most people you meet in your day have a burden.   You learn to shoulder it as best you can; to lean into it and pull it alongside you. It's lighter some days and heavier others. But it's always there.

There is no room for death in our culture.  No room for grief.  It embarrasses people and makes them uncomfortable.

To be certain, I have very much in my life to be thankful for.

The very least we can do is to be a bit kinder to one another.   To treasure what we have while we have it.

And hope this year is a better one.


  1. I'm sorry to read about your losses, I'm sending you a big hug from here.
    We've been lucky with our pregnancies but we've had friends who miscarried or struggle to conceive. It's always been tricky to know what to say to them but they've always found it better to talk about it. We have some stupid conventions in this country, the one is that you tend not to talk about a pregnancy until you've had your 12 week scan, all this does is make people suffer in silence if they have a miscarriage and people can think they are the only ones going through it. i know that the Dadnetwork has been pushing for people to be more open about it, and they have some great advice on their website.

    Loosing a grandfather you were close to must be tough but to loose the place where those memories are makes it even tougher. Reading this blog though I can tell that there is a fair bit of that man in you in all that you do, being quite the outdoors woman and farmer that you are. I think if you pass his knowledge on to your child then that keeps his memory alive.
    I never really knew my grandparents that well but I'm close to my parents and sometimes I'll be doing something simple with my dad and I just think I'm going to remember that moment for the rest of my life.
    If you have any stories to tell about your grandfather or mother I'd be interested in reading them, sometimes my dad will tell me some mundane detail about his father and I'll be hung on his every word, just stories of the past, pasted on to the next generation.
    Don;t feel embarrassed by this post. I though it was beautiful and thought about what I was going to write for ages whilst I was outside and then I've struggled to even make sense of what I've written so I'm sorry if this is just a big mess of a comment. I'll understand if you want to take it down though.

  2. I too am sending you a supportive hug and well wishes. Life can suck and it can be the most rewarding thing in the world. I am so sorry you're going through so much. Write as much or as little as you like. It's amazing what support bloggers can offer and sometimes easier when they aren't sat face to face with you maybe?
    Kev's words rang true with me too. After the short period I've been reading your blog, I see your grandfather in your expression, your values and ways of thinking. The only thing I would say, from experience, is remember the whole time you're feeling and doing what you do, your little one is still watching you, making memories of his own. Time flies by so quickly. The first 3 months of my son's life were the only 3 where all eyes were on him, we lost someone in the family at 3 months old and not many people can remember him from the age of 3 months to say 6-9 months, as they were grieving. I do though. I am not suggesting anything at all by saying this, just offering support to keep on making memories for your little one. Take care, you're doing amazingly I am sure. Tracy xx
    PS I would LOVE to hear stories too.
    PPS Kev - lovely comment x

  3. Ah, I feel your pain. As you say, which home has not felt suffering? Somehow though, experiencing loss this traumatic at a time of year nromally filled with "celebration" and joyfulness seems unfair. ((((Hugs))) to you from South Africa.

  4. Life is hard when so many sad things all come at once, nothing we can change, but we can remember, keep them in our hearts. I do hope you feel more upbeat soon, having the sad times do help when to good times come, so you are able to enjoy them. This is for me a sad time of year, long dark cold days do not make anyone feel good.

  5. So sorry for the deaths in your family, very young and old. It impart of our lives but never get used to it.