What Grief Feels Like

I wrote the following a couple of years after burying my 17 year old son, Christopher. It isn’t pretty and, at times, sounds downright ugly. I decided not to edit what I wrote, so that others can see the rough edges of grief.


My fingernails aren’t sharp enough or I’d shove them through my chest and tear out my heart.

The pain would bring relief … it would stop my heart beating … the beating that seems to tick away at the time I’ve lived without you.

How could that hurt me more than the pain I feel now?

The pain is from the middle of me … right where I held him, cradled him and protected him as he grew.

Rocking back and forth I try to comfort myself like I rocked him as he grew inside me.

He’s not there … he’s not anywhere.

My middle claws at me like it’s never been fed.

I think my heart isn’t where every one else’s is … mine isn’t the thing that beats in me but the thing that oozes life from me. It doesn’t leak – but pours out with no control at all.

Torn from me.

Why can’t I choose where the pain comes from? Maybe if I rip at my own skin, tear at my own flesh, rip out my own fingernails (I know I could) and with my own hands dig him up, just to hold him again …

Just a few more minutes.

Just let me see that he’s ok. Is he warm enough, resting, not hurting?

Could I crawl in beside him? Would everybody leave me there — please? I could cover myself with the dirt blanket that covers him now.

I loved him his whole life, knew nothing could ever happen to him – God knows I could never handle this – it can’t really be real .

A good mom knows where her kids are, who they’re with, what they’re doing and when they’ll be home. I don’t know where he is, who he’s with, what he’s doing or when he’ll be home. Never, of course.

He has come to me in my dreams – at night looking lost and lonely. He’s cold. He’s scared. He doesn’t understand why I don’t come and get him.

I don’t want to wake up because I know he won’t be there. I don’t want to go to sleep because of the horrors I’ll see.

I am not safe anywhere – I can’t trust anything any more.

My life is forever changed. My worst nightmares have come alive and haunt me.

There is no escape – still I try. Maybe if I eat this or drink that it will fill that aching place.

If I hold my breath, will I die? Can I?

If I drink enough will I forget long enough to get a break from the agony so I can go on putting one foot in front of another?

How long do I have to live?

It’s amazing how long you can live in an empty shell.

Amazing how good you can get at looking alive.

Comfort – where are you? What can I do that will make me feel better?

I am a wild animal grabbing at anything that will feel like relief – even for just a while. Like a wild animal, I lash out at those who would help bring me back to life again – hit, claw, bite, yell at – avoid.

Do I want to get better – yes! No! If I’m ‘better’ will I be leaving him behind?

If I start to get better, feel better, my guard goes down. I can see life on the horizon – go toward it. Then out of nowhere I smell him, hear him, remember holding him and the agony stabs me when I’m not looking.

I wish I had let him buy those shoes…

I wish I had listened more when he talked…

I wish I had made sure he laughed more…

I wish there was some way to say how much I loved him so he would really know…

I can’t even kill myself – what would that do to my family? They’ve already been through so much. I won’t cause them the pain I’ve known. But I long for death sometimes…I imagine it would give me some relief. I don’t know what’s on the other side of this life – would I have to watch as my family suffers pain I’ve caused? That would be worse for me than my life now.

I love them like crazy, too!

What if I don’t tell them often enough?

What if I don’t buy them those shoes?

What if I don’t help them laugh again?

What if I lose another person?

Oh, God help me.

Don’t worry too much. I wrote this long ago. Joy and laughter have once again found a home in me. But sometimes I stumble across something like one of his guitar picks, an article of clothing or his Christmas stocking…

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Julie Wolf

    I feel this completely. Thank you for your openness.

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