Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Grief is an exacting lender.

Tara and I have just returned from a long, wonderful vacation during which we were so busy that thoughts of our recent trials were relegated to a quieter corner for a time. The relief was noticeable but as our days wore on, our longing to be home increased sharply. Call it avoidance, call it indulgence, call it whatever - we let our attention to grief down for a while.

But all things have their due. The entry back to our daily lives has been like reliving the immediate aftermath of Henry's death. The coping mechanisms developed since February seem feeble again and the memories of how he sounded, looked, felt and the times we enjoyed have come back with a stinging pain. It's so viscerally confusing how loving and tender memories can bring on such desperation rather than comfort; how the anxiety and dread of forgetting can be almost welcome. It's such a balancing act - keeping things close with appreciation for the experience of Henry without suffocating with the expectations of what could have been for him, for us, for the girls. The two are intimately tied together and touching one, means painfully grappling with the other.

Being busy helps to distract from the process and thankfully feels almost normal but for a persistent undercurrent of latent emotion, waiting for the quiet time to dispose of its accumulation. Habitual action is soothing for a time, but when I pause to compare it's meaning in light of our loss, my motivation for it disappears. Getting up from the chair seems like an act of sheer will.

I really thought I was doing so much better than this and am having difficulty coming to grips with this recent upsurge of grief. Sometimes I tell myself that I don't want it to get easier, that this pain is the price of keeping his memory fresh and that I'm willing to pay. It feels wrong to avoid him, sometimes I cannot look at his picture despite a longing to hold him again, to have another conversation, to let him know we miss him so desperately.

Our time away came at high interest and now the collection is painful.

We have done this before and will do it again, this wrestling with grief. It has been my mistake in thinking for a moment that we may be beyond the worst. There is a deep process at work and I feel all I can do is let it be what it's going to be.


Cindy said...

I admire your strength. You have lived through a parent's worst nightmare and still have the courage to share your story with those of us who even on our worst days have not had to suffer the pain you and your family continue to feel with the loss of Henry.

I pray for your comfort and continued strength. I pray the good days will eventually outnumber the bad. And I thank you for sharing Henry's story. He continues to touch the lives of those who knew him and those who only know of him through your blog.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry you are going thru this bad time right now, but know you all are thought of alot and even though nothing anyone can say or do anything to make you feel better. Always know that Henry has touched so many lives and all of us who knew of him, he has made us better parents, husbands and wives. Hope the days get better for you.

Granya said...

Henry's absence is so apparent in the daily activities of your household. He was so unique, so mature, such a gentleman. And his crafts and favorite items decorate your house like he is still there.

It is comforting, it is an unnecessary reminder, it is important for the girls to know that his life and death are so vital to the family that was then, and continues to be now.

That family is different but I hope will emerge from this in a way that is mentally healthy, socially accepting and will demonstrate the strength that they all possess - and humor and glee will return. Henry made the family laugh and I miss that. I have no doubt that it will get easier - not yet.

Anonymous said...

Bryan, am thinking of you and your gals.
I am sorry.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts wandered to Henry several times this past week during quiet, reflective moments. What an amazing energy he must have! Thinking of your family often.

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking of you and your family often and wondering how you are doing. I am glad you and Tara had the chance to get away for a much needed break, yet sorry that your return was that much more painful. I think of all of you often and pray that you will continue to have the fortitude to deal with your loss.
Thinking of you,