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When Caleb died, I said I would not take medication if I could help it at all. I wanted to experience the grief in real time. I had heard delaying the processing of grief would cause doing the work later, with interest. I have mostly kept to this plan though I occasionally find taking a break from the harsh edges of grief is necessary for my mental health. Some days hit you out of nowhere like a freight train and there is nothing you can do but be dragged down the tracks until it slows down enough to deal with it.

Sometimes you have a warning or an idea a certain day may be bad. Survivors talk to each other and you find out most have issues on certain dates. Other dates you just know.

One tactic I use to take a break is to distract myself. This is most useful when I know some big ‘grief day’ is coming but can be utilized any day. An example of a day I did not do any distraction was my birthday which was the anniversary of the last time I saw Caleb alive. I was home all day alone, no one to talk and nowhere to go. It was wretchedly horrible; lesson learned.

We were in the middle of pulling out carpet from our basement and getting ready to stain the concrete when Caleb died. We had non-stop company the week after until the memorial service. As soon as everyone left, it became critical to finish the floor. We worked feverishly to get it done. We did not know it then, but it was our subconscious keeping us distracted.

Immediately after completing the basement we went on a long camping trip and visited Chattanooga, Mammoth Cave, went zip-lining, and spelunking. We crammed the trip with activities. This distraction was great for us.

Christmas is a huge religious holiday for us and Caleb would always come home for a couple of weeks. We knew this holiday would be terrible if we stayed home. We booked a cruise specifically to be at sea on Christmas Day. It worked. The day was hard, and I missed his presence, but I know it would have been much worse if we were home.

Some days your thoughts turn dark – very dark. I have had times which scare me in ways I never thought possible. You feel yourself sinking into a pit and you cannot find your way out. Get out of your head. Get out of your house, work, wherever you are and distract yourself. Go shopping. Go for a walk. Go camping or a road trip. I need to stay home and avoid people sometimes but it is only okay when it is making you feel better. When it keeps you in a dark place, leave! Call me or someone you are comfortable being around.

Published inGrief

One Comment

  1. Josh Boggs


    I appreciate your words. I can’t exactly relate to what you’ve gone through, but do understand how distractions help in hard situations. When my marriage was in its last several years, I told my co-workers to pull me back into focus if they saw my mind wandering. I buried myself in my work, just to keep my mind off the pain of my home situation. Distractions do help, although there are sharp, pointed memories that blindside you, on occasion.

    I love you guys, and hope you are well. If you need anything, let me know.

    – JB

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