34 Comments
May 1Liked by Jen Zug

My mom passed away 4.5 years ago now. I was with her when she died but I remember the air being knocked out of me when she finally did go... like I was losing a piece of me, which I was. I say finally but she wasn't sick long. She became septic after numerous surgeries and there was no going back and no getting better.

When I was in high school my best friend died from suicide. That ripped me apart and basically nearly ended my own life. I've healed a lot but as a kid I didn't have the proper mental health tools yet to get through it and I fell apart in the years after.

Death really sucks. Grief sucks almost as much, I mean... both of these things really do just suck.

Thinking of you. ♥️

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"...like losing a piece of me." Yes, this. I feel very lucky to have had a mom who was happy and loved, and who could love others in a healthy way. I was early in my parenting journey when her health declined to the point of immobility and not communicating, and I missed her so much in the ten-ish years that she wasn't herself before she died. She would have LOVED how my kids turned out.

Thank you for sharing about your friend's death and how that impacted you. That is so hard, and I can imagine mental health supports back then were not what they are now. Something similar happened when my daughter was in middle school - but it was an overdose. It was so so difficult for the kids, and I remember being really worried about the girl's best friend. She was a wreck. I think about that family who lost their daughter every time my own daughter passes a milestone - graduating, wisdom teeth getting pulled, getting her first job, etc.

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Thank you Jen. That image of you and your family at Home Depot is powerful. Also thanks for the moment-between thoughts. I’ll borrow that prompt idea for someday if it’s okay…..

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Thanks, Julie. Yes, definitely borrow it - I got it from a memoir, actually, and I think about those in-between moments all the time.

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I'm so sorry about your ma. Thanks for sharing this event in your life and the pictures. Hubby lost his parents and sister way too soon. He said it's not just the anniversaries of their bdays or death days but any random day it will hit him hard. A stranger on the street who reminds him of Laura. Even the scent of cigarette smoke-- his parents.

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"Even the scent of cigarette smoke..." Yes, this. For years and years after Gordy died, turning on the furnace for the first time in the late Fall was such an emotional ordeal because of how the furnace died the same weekend he did.

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May 1Liked by Jen Zug

Thank you Jen for sharing these very tender moments. The Home Depot story sums it all up perfectly. And your memories intersect with what I've been ruminating on in recent days.

29 years ago this week, here in the house where I am again living, I realized that my mother's months-long gradual decline was irreversible and accelerating -- which is a somewhat polished description of the bolt of cold fear that went through me at that moment, alone in the house, on a gloomy day, watching her sleep through the afternoon. More than the preceding months of medical drama, or the coming days and weeks of family and hospice and family and funeral drama, it was that quiet dark realization I found most unnerving, then and now. I guess we never really know where "a grief I could access with more clarity and anger" will find us....

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Those moments of realization can be just as difficult as the loss itself. Like in the best horror movies, it's the fear and anticipation of the unimaginable that leaves a pit in our stomachs.

Thanks Daniel. I always enjoy your thoughtful comments.

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May 1Liked by Jen Zug

Ah this is such a well written & touching story. My condolences and thank you for sharing your journey. 🌷

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Thanks, Nicole!

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Beautiful, funny and touchingly ‘real’

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Thank you, Avivah!

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May 1Liked by Jen Zug

This connects so much for me this week. From what I told my colleagues to how shocked I am by the depth of grief and my limitations. I thought about going to Home Depot today but maybe I’ll wait. My movie has been Quiet Place. Thank you for writing this and normalizing the ways grief show up as life goes on.

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Thanks for saying so, Amanda. I'm thankful this resonated with your own grief experience. You have me interested in watching Quiet Place again from the perspective of personal grief. Thanks for the idea.

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Well I wish I could say there was something deeper to it for me but I chose Quiet Place because I simply wanted the least amount of talking. 🤷‍♀️

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May 1Liked by Jen Zug

Jen, thanks for this. Grief is so hard, and so frustrating that I can't create a spreadsheet and a task list to work my way through it on my own time and schedule. Having my mom here for the summer helps a bit, I guess, but also makes it all the more real that my dad is gone. Ah well, here's to crying (and swearing) in public!

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Girl we are the same person. You saw my sticky note to-do lists! 🤣 I'm glad you get to have your mom with you for ahwile. After Gordy's funeral and everyone else went home, 2yo Ruthie and I stayed with my mom alone for another couple of weeks to help with all the "stuff of dying." It was a really special time.

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Thank you for this! Having something else to do/focus on in the aftermath of a loss has always been a kind of relief for me. And something I always felt kinda awkward about. Like, should I really be thankful I have to get my kid to practice after hearing my grandmother passed away? For better or worse, it’s a coping skill, and I’m happy to see that I’m not alone.

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Busy busy busy - just keep moving. Sometimes it's the only way to not feel stuck.

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Exactly! In my case, it really helps, too. It's late in the 4th for my father in law, and I'm already wondering what I'm going to do to keep moving.

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So sorry for your loss. You write about it beautifully. This really resonated with me: "I missed her for a long time before she actually died, which is why I was surprised by how hard I took it when she actually did die."

And thanks for the restack!

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Something about the finality, right? And you're welcome - yours was beautifully written, too.

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Oh Jen, I'm so sorry - thank you for sharing this beautiful post, which had me both reaching for my hanky and giggling, too.

Your writing is awesome. 🙌

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Laughter through tears is the best compliment! Thank you!

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My takeaway: if you never hire any repair people to come fix broken things at the house, no loved ones will die. That's how my brain works. I'd be afraid to schedule any remodeling projects and sleep in a tent in the backyard. But, like you say, it's a double-edged sword: having something else to focus on allows you to keep it together for a little while, but at the same time you have to keep it together when you might not want to.

I think Home Depot is a magnet for emotional breakdowns. I once went in there to find some small something or other (can't remember what) and after trying to get someone to help me for 30 minutes to no avail, proceeded to knock all the items off the shelf of the aisle I was on. No one came by to see what happened, which is lucky on my part. I had been broken up with by my girlfriend earlier that day.

I still feel that rage whenever I go to a Home Depot.

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"My takeaway: if you never hire any repair people to come fix broken things at the house, no loved ones will die." This thought crossed my mind more than once!

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Phew. Glad it wasn't just me!:)

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A wonderful post we can all relate with. Thank you for sharing, Jen.

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Thank you, Sue!

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Beautiful. Thank you.

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Thank you Anne. I got your email and will respond.

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Such a moving post, Jen. I love what you have done here, shared your human response to loss. It helps us all connect and understand our own behaviors. Thank you! 💛

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I'm so sorry for your loss.Thank you Jen for normalizing what isn't normal, the incomprehension of losing a loved one and the waves of grief that bring us to our knees. Whether sudden or an expected loss, the reality of that person vacating our life is crazy making. And somehow we go on.

It will be 6 years the end of May that I lost my mom. I'm still surprised some days that she's no longer in this physical world.

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Waves of grief indeed. And how grief changes over the years but never goes away.

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