Category: bereavement

finished reading The Grieving Brain by Mary-Frances O’Connor 📚 it was interesting to read a book backed by science that supports & explains much of what we’ve learned elsewhere about grief. thinking of grieving as a special kind of learning is a key point

a favorite holiday album for years, this is about all I can stand to listen to this year: Over the Rhine’s The Darkest Night of the Year. happy solstice, &c.

finished Joanne Cacciatore’s Bearing the Unbearable, a beautiful book. ideas about “stretching & strengthening the grief-bearing muscles”, plus kindness projects, stood out. if nothing else, the title encapsulates the experience about as perfectly as anything I’ve heard 📚

Mary

I’ve rarely ever written much of a very personal nature here, and I’m still not sure I want to now. But I’ve experienced a loss so profound that I feel I have to at least note the fact of it, whether or not I end up writing more about it than this. I want to get back to posting whether I liked this book, or that beer, or how my writing is going, but how can I, after this?

Anyway, it’s this: in the early-morning hours of Friday, July 30, our 23-year-old daughter Mary was killed in a car crash here in Austin. She was a passenger, and the car she was in was hit by a reckless driver. Dumbfoundingly, the other three occupants of her car were fine, but she never regained consciousness. The at-fault driver also died, after more than a week on life support.

A week after the accident we held a memorial service for her, in the morning. That afternoon we got the news that my (unvaccinated) brother-in-law had lost his weeks-long battle with Covid-19. A week later we were attending his funeral.

That was four weeks ago yesterday, and I don’t think I could put this unimaginable hell into words even if I wanted to. There are at least occasional periods of time now that are bearable, and even, every now and then, a faint glimmer of being able to give the tiniest fuck about life or the future. That’s progress, I suppose.

One thing I did (god knows how; I barely remember it) was make a simple system by which those of us who miss her can send texts to a special phone number (Twilio, natch) that then get published to a website (Micro.blog) and cross-posted to a social media network (Twitter, yuck, but that’s where her friends are). The messages are here, with a detailed explanation here; Micro.bloggers can follow her through @maryg and Twitter folk can find the crossposts on @WeMissUMary. I hope/plan to publish the Node.js source at some point; there is a lot of room for improvement.

Other things are going on, too. It’s bizarre and frankly more than a little rude how life continues on, good and bad, despite this level of debilitating tragedy. But maybe now I can post a mention of those things here and not feel like I’m pretending this didn’t happen.

For a start: I liked this book, and that beer, and my writing was a finalist in a contest. Big damn deal.

And it probably won’t get easier
Just easier to hide
Prepare for an aching
The rest of your life

it was: she says this, or she does this, or she thinks this. she loves that or she hates that.

but now it’s: she said this, or she did this, or she thought this. she loved that or she hated that.

how the fuck am I supposed to be able handle that?

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