AWKWARD - grief notes | blogging from a to z challenge


During the month of April, I am taking on the Blogging from A to Z challenge, writing twenty-six alphabet themed grief notes.

On August 17, 2017 my twenty year old son was killed in a car wreck. I am trying to be OK . . . we are all trying to be OK ... in a world where nothing is OK. I am reaching for what I know heals me ... creativity ... art ... writing. Stringing together words, thoughts, and questions. 

About a week or two after Noah died, a certain friend came to visit, to check in with us, to be with us. As he was walking up to the house, I stood there and said, "I feel awkward. I don't know what to say." He said, "me too" It was a relief to just to be able to say, "I don't know how to be" and I think it was a relief to him as well for us both to simply acknowledge it. 


Grief is awkward. 


I've lived with grief before; I've live through two grandparents, both of my parents, both of my in-laws, and my brother dying. They were older. They were sick. It was expected. We had time to come to terms with the loss. In some cases, it was a relief for their suffering to be over. 


But I've never lived through sudden death until now. 


Well, there was that time that my step-father unexpectedly picked me up from school. My eight year old self knew immediately that something had happened. I demanded to know as soon as I got in the car. My favorite cousin, Steve, was killed in a car accident at eighteen years old. I remember being devastated, asking hard questions, Why? Why? Why? "You don't question God," my mother said. The answer to that question settled into my little heart and changed me more than my cousin being gone. There's so much more to that story to be told later. 


Death and grief changes you so profoundly that you don't know how to be.

Thus the awkwardness. 


You cry unexpectedly, anywhere, for any reason, for no reason. Yesterday, I cried quietly while watching The Avengers. I cry in Publix. That's not new. I've been crying in Publix since my mother was sick and I was caring for her. Publix would be the last stop on the way home to make dinner or collapse. I'd walk up and down all the aisles, needing just a few more moments to myself and my thoughts and I would cry. 


I want to talk about Noah and how I am processing his death. To anyone. I want to tell everyone. Honestly, I sometimes want to scream at people, "Can't you see?! Don't you know?! My son is gone!" and I don't know how to be a normal human being now. What is normal? How do I live now? I don't know. I've never had to do this so I don't know. 


Last August, when we were pulled on the side of the road, having just received the news, and I had collapsed, screaming into the ground, my body started going numb. Having just had a stroke four weeks earlier, I was scared of what was happening in my body so we called EMS. The first responders were so kind as they processed my vitals and the situation. They relayed all the information to the EMT. As he knelt by the car door, he began asking me questions,"Have you ever been diagnosed with panic attacks?" I was so confused by this question that I poked him in the chest emphasizing each word, "No. But my son has never died before" 


I sometimes think I should have a disclaimer: a little card I could hand people when I first meet them. Warning ... grieving mother. Expect tears ... and then laughing at inappropriate times ... and erratic behavior. Expect awkward.

It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer... and everything collapses.
— collette