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What is Grief

Grief is a lonely place.

I never imagined how lonely one could become or how quickly. Grieving the loss of a child isolates because so many people do not understand what it is like and do not know how to relate to the person they used to know. When that loss comes from suicide, the isolation broadens from those who either think it is somehow preventable, caused by the parents, or think there is something fundamentally wrong with the parents.

You still feel all alone, even when in a crowd.
Others can speak of their children of whom they are proud,
But to talk about your child, somehow isn’t allowed
So your child’s memories are hidden under grief’s cloud
You just want to mention his name out loud.
(excerpt of poem by Aline Lomastro)

Grief is a unique place.

No one experiences or reacts the same to grief. Donna and I have both lost a son, but neither had the same relationship as the other with Caleb. It is a different grief. This adds to the loneliness, but it also affects how we grieve. Since we are different people, our grieving is exaggeratedly different.

Because grief is so unique, no one can tell you how to navigate it. No one knows what you are experiencing. Because we do not have words in our vocabulary that correctly express grief, no one knows how to talk about it.

When we have no one to talk with and no way to express our feelings, we come back to loneliness.

Grief has no time limit

The person who said “time heals” wrote it for a movie or textbook without ever losing someone close. How can time heal the loss of a child? In my experience, time makes it worse. The further from the time I last saw my child it gets, the more I want to be back there.

Time does not heal, but it helps us adjust. Over time, I have learned to function and survive. It does not mean you get over the loss and forget.
My life will never be the same again. I call it my new abnormal. Nothing is normal. I not only lost a son, I lost who I was and all the relationships I had with anyone. Even the few who stuck around, we now have a completely different relationship.

Grief is tiring

I am so tired of not being able to sleep. I have not slept well in thirty years and used to think I was just a night owl, except that is not at all what I was before Alex died. Grief and problems have kept me awake since then.

It gets super tiring to not being able to talk about my son. If I say something about my daughter, everything is fine, but if I say anything about what Caleb liked or things he did, the room gets quiet and awkward. I love being able to talk about him and hearing others talk about him, just like I do my daughter and the foster kids I had.

I am tired of the gut punch every morning. First thing is “He’s dead.” Rehashing his last few days over and over and over is also exhausting.

Grief is not fair

Grief does not care how many other tragedies we have endured, it will pile more onto us. Some people live their entire life with their children all alive and well. Grief does not care that we lost multiple kids, multiple businesses, or had multiple major ongoing health issues before Caleb died. Grief will walk up, smirk, and spit in your eye. It does not care.

With each day you are reminded of all you have lost.
And how much your loss has ultimately cost
Your child’s hopes and dreams have been tossed
So before you judge, keep your fingers crossed
That you never know the pain of a child’s loss.
(excerpt of poem by Aline Lomastro)

See Related: Three, Life Isn’t Fair

Published inGrief


  1. Cathy

    Thank you, David. I get your pain and where you’re coming from. I lost my son to suicide 14 years ago.
    What I find “interesting” is when people say – you still have your daughters?! Wtf?!! People just don’t stop and think and I’m tired of trying to educate them. Hoping they don’t have to go through what we have gone through.
    Hugs … Cathy

    • david

      Thanks Cathy, I have heard similar things from people myself. I feel like asking them which child they do not mind losing.

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