He is really gone.

He is really gone.

We have hit the two-year, two-month mark of Nikolai’s death. That’s kind of a long time, relatively speaking, I guess. Yet, what I find odd is that, after all this time, it is finally (26 months later) hitting me that he is gone and that he isn’t coming back.  

I know he’s gone. I know he’s not coming back. However, I’m just now realizing it. His death is final. It dawned on me a couple of days ago as I stood in front of his gravestone. I kept tracing his name with my fingers and saying his name out loud, like I needed him desperately to respond.

Almost every day, my FB memories reminds me of his life. I can’t stop staring at pictures, like I’m willing that time back, I’m willing him to walk back into our lives.

The depth of how much I miss him is hitting so hard.

We celebrated my granddaughter’s first birthday on Saturday and it was joyful and amazing and I kept thinking how much Nikolai would have loved to be there. How much fun he would have had with her and the things he would have said and done to make her laugh. He would have loved snuggling with Daley’s new puppy.

And yesterday, we had friends over and one of his best friends was playing whiffle ball with all the other boys in our yard and it made me immensely sad that he missed that, while also knowing his friend misses him and also silently wishes he was there.

My sadness lately seems on a whole new level, another level of grief to rock my world and leave me begging for this pain in my heart to stop.

Grief is not linear. It’s a pattern of loops and zig zags and most days doesn’t make an ounce of sense. There are definitely more okay patches than devasted ones, more joyful times than sad; however, this grief thing, this slow healing, is meddling in the way my life is supposed to go.

It shouldn’t take this long to grieve and heal, or so the world has foolishly led us to believe. Grief is tricky. It doesn’t ever really go away. We will always carry it. Some days the load may feel lighter and other days it will feel so heavy you don’t know how you can possibly carry it.

Grief is living two lives. One is where you pretend that everything is fine, and the other is where you want to scream out in anguish. And it’s a constant battle of will to keep that second one from coming out, to fake it until you make it, to convince those around you that you really are ‘okay’.

Until today. Today I realize that you are gone forever. You really aren’t ever coming back and I’m not okay. I grieve the loss of my kid. I miss him being a part of our family. I miss his laugh. I miss his smile. I’m tired. My heart hurts.

And, all of that… all those feelings… that is okay. It’s okay to feel broken sometimes.

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Grieving is lonely, yet you cannot do it alone

Grieving is lonely

Grief is uncomfortable.
When you grieve it is a constant struggle to capture the wide range of emotions that occur not just within a week or a day, but each dang minute. It’s struggling to figure out what kind of support I need when people ask. It’s figuring out what to say when people reach out. Grief is uncomfortable. It’s an awkward silence that is always there laying under the surface.

People never know what they should say to you. Heck, most days I don’t know what to say. I used to get angry at people for being awkward and weird around me, but honestly, grief is uncomfortable. And, I don’t have an answer to make it easier for you or me.

Here are just a few things I continue to tell myself every day…

Everyone has a different grief journey. There is no right or wrong.

I will never get over it; however, I will move through it.

Nikolai’s suicide was not my fault.

It is okay to smile and experience joy.

Do not allow people to shame you for not being the parent they think you should have been. They did not walk in your shoes and cannot possibly fathom your life or that of your son’s.

Keep writing.

How I decide to grieve is up to me. Don’t let anyone tell me how to do it.

Be patient with myself.

There is no timeline for grief.

Therapy is hard but you need it.

Grieving is lonely, yet you cannot do it alone.

Moving forward doesn’t mean letting go.

You will survive.

For those of you looking to comfort someone going through grief, please remember that the absolute most important thing you can do is just listen. So many of us are “fixers” and all we want to do is help the person grieving so we offer advice on how to get through situations. I don’t want you to fix me. You can’t fix me. Stop trying to fix me. Just hear me out. Let me cry, let me vent, let me talk, let me scream.

When someone you care about is grieving, it can be difficult to know what to say or do. We struggle with so many intense and painful emotions, including depression, anger, guilt, and profound sadness. And for many of us, we feel isolated and alone in our grief. Remember that it is simply your support and caring presence that will help those of us grieving cope with the pain and gradually begin to heal.

First day of school

Today was hard

Today was hard. Today Reilly and Nikolai should have boarded the bus to high school together. Today Beans would have told Reilly he’d show him the ropes and Reilly would tell him he’s got it covered – lol! Today I had one less “normal” back-to-school picture.

Milestones like back-to-school can feel like a swift punch in the gut. I cried tears today for the child who should have been a sophomore today – not wanting to go to school, but still full of first day hope like he always was.

I’m happy and so excited for Reilly! I loved hearing about his entire day – his classes, teachers, who he ate lunch with and all that cool stuff. He is an amazing kid who is going to do amazing things. But I can also ache for the one not here. I’m trying my best to honor what is and allow myself to grieve what isn’t.

I read something recently, “I stand with one foot in the life I have, and one foot in the life I had. I straddle time and space. It’s hard to live like that. I’m a grieving mom and (by all appearances,) a “normal” mom, all at the same time. It can be really complicated and messy and that’s ok.”

This is grief. This is love. This is parenting after loss. 💙