Life After Loss

How exactly does one carry on after such a significant, senseless, loss?

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

The six month anniversary of Brodie’s death just passed. Mostly, it still seems like just yesterday. I still can’t believe that he isn’t here. I want him to still be here. I want to have another chance to make a difference with him. I still want to help him. I want to keep him alive.

But none of this is possible, and I realize that I need to move on — somehow.

Up until now, it has been important to me to display Brodie’s picture in prominent areas: my office, my wait rooms, my dining room table at home. Shrines, really. And along with his picture, I have also had awareness brochures on the opioid crisis, Moms Stop The Harm information, newspaper articles, and other such materials. Although I still believe all of this is very important, I was finding that I could not stop being sad. I still needed to go to work, I still needed to be there for people I care about, I still have things to do in my life. In order to facilitate this, I decided one day to take it all down.

Even as I write this, I still feel terrible about removing Brodie’s pictures and the reminders of this terrible crisis that we are in. As I moved from room to room taking down his items, I cried and cried. As I was crying, I was also talking to Brodie. I was apologizing to him for being disrespectful. I wanted him to know that removing his images did not mean that I missed him any less, or that I was going to forget him anytime soon. I hoped that he would understand. I hoped that he would forgive me.

Photo by Luis Galvez on Unsplash

As I recall this act of “clearing away the grief”, I am again in floods of tears. Will this ever hurt less? I think not. However, I must say that I was able to exhale and I felt just a little bit lighter once I was finished. I believe that this ritual did clear the path, slightly, in order that I might live a little easier each day.

I had a casual conversation recently with a woman about grieving. She shared with me that she had lost her husband a few years ago, quite prematurely at a young age. On her recovery journey, she did some research on death and dying in different religions and cultures. What she found helpful was this: some peoples believe that while we are still sad and holding on, that we are holding our loved ones back from moving on themselves. That they cannot move forward to wherever they might be going next until we let them go. I found a little solace in this belief, and that maybe, just maybe, my letting go of Brodie allowed him to have some peace in moving on himself.

I miss you Brodie. I always will.

(left) Brodie and Jen, New Years Eve, 2016 (right) My son, Lloyd, and Brodie, 2010
My daughter, Alexis, and Brodie, December 2017