Ruminations of a Red Dirt Hussy

June 13, 2018

This is how you grieve

Filed under: General — Vadasmaker @ 8:42 pm

This is how you grieve.

When you get the call, you know it’s bad before you answer, because nobody calls you at 7:30 in the morning. But you answer because you can’t think of any rational way to avoid it. When you hear the news, you come as near to throwing up as you have in the last 35 years, and you hang up and dig for the stale crackers you know are in your desk drawer.

Staring blankly at your office drapes while you try to fight back nausea with the dry, dusty saltine, you realize that your 35 years of not throwing up, although not connected, must have started the year your nephew was born, the same nephew who is now awaiting an autopsy on a cold steel table in a Kansas City morgue. For just a moment, there’s a flutter of hope. An autopsy means there’s doubt that he took his own life.

“Please let there be foul play,” you mumble through the crumbs. It’s a valid prayer. If someone killed him, there will be a place to deposit this growing anger and grief, somebody to blame, somebody to hate. Hate would be so much easier.

By the next day the coroner has ruled it a suicide, and the day after that, your nephew has been cremated. Already! Before you had a chance to—to what? To say good by? To cry? To hide? But secretly you’re glad that there won’t be a traditional funeral, that he won’t be stuffed into a coffin and put in the ground. Maybe a memorial service is just the thing.

Turns out it’s not. Your heart only breaks a little more as you see your brother’s grief, see the eight kids with their daddy’s snub nose and blue eyes, some so young they won’t remember him, some old enough that they’ll wish they could forget but never will.

For the next three weeks you do the things you must to make a living during the day, and in the deep, dark, unblinking night you do the things that get you through to the next day. You dig out all the family pictures, thinking you’ll put them in albums since you can’t sleep anyway. Instead, you sit, holding the shoe box on your lap, unable to look at what remains of a life.

You go on Facebook and friend one of his ex-wives and a couple of the older kids, because you think you’ll feel better if you can offer comfort to them. But you don’t, because you can’t. There’s nothing that will make them feel better and knowing that only makes you feel worse.

You text your brother every few days, not just because it’s easier than calling, but because you know if you call, you’ll cry, and if you cry, he’ll cry. You both cry anyway—he when he looks at the small urn that holds all he has left of his only son, you when he texts you that information.

So you’re stuck in this cycle of wanting to comfort and being unable to, needing comfort yourself but not finding it. Of course, you’re thankful that it wasn’t your child, but in the back of your mind, you almost wish it had been. Not because you could bear to lose your own son but because that grief would be pure, personal, not contingent on the grief of others, and you could pretend no one else was involved.



  1. Sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing such raw emotion. Praying for you all.


    Comment by Ryan Landrum — June 13, 2018 @ 9:01 pm | Reply

  2. Nice job, for something that was not easy.

    “The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.” –Federico Fellini



    Comment by Doug Kelley — June 13, 2018 @ 9:24 pm | Reply

  3. I’m sorry, Carol. Holding you in the light.


    Comment by Michelle — June 14, 2018 @ 2:01 pm | Reply

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