Good Grief

My youngest brother Jake should have turned 10 years old today, March 27, 2013. Instead, he died in a car accident at 5 years old, an age at which he commonly stated he "wanted to be forever." 

I spent all day trying to think positively to get me through today. During lunch, I took a walk in the abundant spring sunshine and treated myself at my favorite chinese food place. I listened to good music and went for a run. I would love to say that all of this helped me feel better, but all in all, it was a pretty damn shitty day.

In the years following Jake's death, I fought a pretty good battle with depression, which only running, therapy, and an extraordinarily supportive significant other helped me win. Needless to say, I have learned a few things about grief over the years.

 No one experiences grief in the same way.  

I read countless books about grief and bereavement after Jake died, looking for the "right" way to grieve, or the steps to take to feel better. At the end of the day, I learned that everyone will go through different feelings at different times, and no number of books can prepare you for that.

You can't avoid grief. 

I spent the better part of 2008-2009 with almost no free time whatsoever, trying my best to stay very busy. I overexercised, under ate, slept very little, and worked my ass off to graduate with honors, and I did. But after graduation in 2009, everything hit me like a ton of bricks, and I slipped into a dark place that I never want to visit again. Days like today will bring me back to that place, but it takes a lot of self awareness (and reminders from Josh) that I will not feel like this forever, and that it is only temporary.

Grief does not go away completely.

I know that statement sounds quite negative, but allow me to explain. I used to attend a bereavement support group called Compassionate Friends, which focused on those grieving the loss of a child or sibling. The one statement I remember the most from this group was mentioned at nearly every meeting. They said, "the pain never completely goes away, but it gets softer." Five years down the road, I can honestly say they were right. The stabbing, acute pain of 2008 has become more like a healed fracture that becomes sore  and predicts the changing weather.
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The problem with today, is that I spent most of the day fighting the inevitable. It's like trying to run a marathon with no water or fuel. You can get by for awhile, but eventually you're going to bonk. I knew the day would be difficult and it always will be. Though every year, I still try my best to look at the bright side that is just not quite there...yet. 
I've stated before [click here to read] that I became a runner after Jake died, to help pull me through the toughest times. If I had to find a silver lining in all this, I suppose that would be mine.  I've got a 5 AM wake up call for a 7 mile run, and I know tomorrow will be a better day than today. I'll end a somewhat melancholy post with an uplifting quote from one of the best books I've read in recent years, The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green:

10 thoughts on “Good Grief

  1. On the anniversary of her mother's death my daughter asked me when I got over my mother dying. I wished for something wise and philosophical to say, but all I could mutter was something about I have not gotten over it, but positive memories seem to have overshadowed the dark ones. The smiles became more visible as the years passed. A good last time together slowly became the dominant last image. Time passes, things soften.

    Wonderful story you have written. Thank you.

    Run gently out there.

    John M.

    Reply
    1. Hi John, thanks for the comments. I always enjoy reading your stories as well, they are so beautiful and inspiring. Sorry to hear about your mom, but I think you phrased it perfectly. Happy running.

      Reply
  2. Just read this. Pretty powerful. I work in the mental health field and some of the statements you made are more realistic and true than what many therapists want to bring their clients through. I appreciated it. May God grant you and your family a little bit more healing each and every year.
    -Jamie (aka boyjame)

    Reply
    1. Hi Jamie...thanks for the kind words. It's been a tough run but going to therapy is one of the best things I ever did for myself. Lots of respect for you and all those who work in the field.

      -Danielle

      Reply

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