I asked my dear friend Leashya to contribute to my blog with an entry about her own grief over the loss of her precious nephew, Christian, just 8 months after I lost Brian. While we were very close before Christian’s death I believe we are now able to relate to one another on a whole new level in our shared grief and she understands me better than anyone else I know. I’m so grateful for her and for her friendship. With that I give you her beautiful words…
Irrational Death; Irrational Grief
It was some time after 10pm when my mom called. There was no “hello”, just a strained voice on the other end. “I don’t know if you still pray, but if you do, now’s the time.” Everything that followed was chaos. My mother’s words, choking out details like, “Christian was hurt in an accident”… “his heart stopped for thirty minutes”… “he’s going into surgery”… were interrupted by the cacophony of voices inside my head screaming “No!” and “This can’t be happening!” I remember yelling at my mother that Christian couldn’t die; he just couldn’t.
But he did.
Christian’s death broke the rules. He was 5. He was healthy. He was loved. He was well cared for. He was protected. He shouldn’t have died.
Driving the 15 hours to Arizona, I listened to Radiohead’s “How to Disappear Completely” on repeat. My incessant thoughts spiraled. My nephew was gone. My older nephew had witnessed the death of his little brother. My sweet, loving brother and sister-in-law were living through every parent’s worst nightmare- losing their child- and there was NOTHING I could do about it.
Death reminds us of how little control we really have. Death slaps us in the face with the harshest of realities: that we don’t get to keep everyone we love. Death is a thief.
Then there’s the grief that follows. Grief is often portrayed as sadness, but it’s so much more than that. Grief also looks like guilt, anger, depression, and insanity.
Grief is irrational.
After I returned to Austin, I hated my house. Each room held a mental photograph of the night Christian died: the kitchen where I answered my phone; the hallway where I sunk to the floor, sobbing over the phone with my mother; the bedroom where I heard the words, “He’s gone.” I was consumed with worry; I obsessed over the pain I could only imagine my brother and sister-in-law were in. I worried about my older nephew. I wondered if the whole family would break apart.
So, here’s where I get really uncomfortable sharing my feelings. I lost my nephew, but his parents lost their son, so who am I to express pain over my loss when, by it’s very nature, it must pale against the darkness of their pain?
Nevertheless, Christian’s death changed me. I cut ties with people I didn’t trust with my grief. I devoted myself more to family and to friends who feel like family. I became hypersensitive to negativity- mostly because I usually feel like I’m barely holding on to the hope that is required to keep functioning in my life.
I also learned something. Grief is irrational. It cannot be measured or predicted or nicely packaged. It cannot be rushed or conveniently timed. It has to be allowed to be… irrational as it is.