“Ten years ago today, my son died. I basically never talk about it with anyone other than my wife. It’s taken me ten years to realize that I want to talk about it all the time.
This is about grief.
Most of the conversations we have about grieving are very very weird. Tragedy is still so taboo, even in the era of the overshare. It’s all very ‘sorry for your loss’ and tilted heads and cards with calligraphy on them and whispering. We’re all on tiptoes all the time.
But grief is not one thing. It is a galaxy of emotions, most of which are put in orbit by the loss of someone you loved, and the harrowing (or not) circumstances surrounding that loss. But we only get to talk about one part publicly: the sadness.
But there is more! Some things make me angry: When the hospital prepared us for his death, one of the doctors kept saying ‘your daughter’ repeatedly until I said through gritted teeth, ‘He is a boy.’
Some things make me confused: we cremated our son. How the f*ck does that work? Like, what are steps one through ten of that process? Some things make me laugh: the funeral home handed us a receipt after our son’s funeral that said ‘thank you come again’ at the bottom.
Our dead son has a twin, who is very much alive. And he’s really just great. And that’s crazy too, because the better he is, the more I’m like ahhhhh sh*t, I wish his brother were alive.
And they both have a sister, who asked us to put an extra candle in her brother’s birthday cake, and who led us in writing a story about her dead brother tonight. (And yeah, we talk about our dead son with our living kids all the time because I don’t know. That’s what we decided to do?)
Anyway. All of those thoughts, up until recently, have basically been kept to conversations with my (amazing) wife and (fine) family (just kidding, also amazing). And now I want to share them. I bet you have a friend with a sad story who also wants to share the not sad parts.
My dead son has a legacy already, in my wife, who became a pediatric intensive care nurse because of him. Can you believe it? Being around sick and dying children all day? Healing and caring for them? She does that because of my son.
Maybe now, a decade later, I’m ready to contribute a tiny bit to his legacy also, with a plea: Ask your sad friend about the sad thing that you never talked about.
Grief is isolating, but not just because of the sadness. Also because the sadness is the only part about it that anyone knows.
Not a single person has ever been unkind about my son, but almost no one considers the fullness of his loss and how complicated and weird and everything else it was and continues to be. Having just recently started talking to other grievers, I know many of them feel the same.
Ask your friend about the sad thing that you never talk about, and be open to the depth of that experience. One day, and I mean this without grimness or condescension, everyone you know will be dead. It will help us if we talk about it. Or anyway, it is helping me.
If you are grieving, you are not alone.
Fisher Daniel Kayne forever and ever.”
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This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Michael Cruz Kayne. You can follow his journey on Twitter and Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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