Tomorrow, September 8th, it will be 7 years since Jack's accident.
Sometimes it feels like a thousand years, and other times a blink of an eye. If you are newly bereaved, I know the thought of someone writing about child loss SEVEN YEARS LATER may seem frightening and distressing. It's too much and too scary to think too far ahead, to let the collateral losses of what is to come pile up on the acute loss you are feeling right now. It's hard to imagine enough strength for the journey of weeks, months and even years ahead.
Today is the one day you need to get through.
To breathe through.
To drink enough water to rehydrate after your tears have run dry.
It seems like I don't write much about my own grief here or on Facebook these days, preferring to share what others who are deep in the muck capture with such naked eloquence. There is so much wisdom out there. One of the reasons I wrote Rare Bird so early on, was to capture raw, early grief in real time. I wanted to capture it, but I didn't want to stay there, and I wasn't sure if I'd want to revisit it again and again. I didn't know if I could ever say, or if I even wanted to say, that I was healed, especially if that entailed leaving Jack behind, but I knew that I wanted to be able to say, even early on, that "I'm healing." In those early days, as I wrestled and wrangled and poured out my heart on this keyboard, you showed up day after day to bear witness to my pain. Thank you.
Now, I feel more like a coach, an ear, or even a light-- illuminating a path up ahead that while almost too scary for the newly bereaved to contemplate, provides more than a degree of hope.
Shortly after the accident, a wonderful fellow blogger sent me this painting one of her friends made for me. It captured the closeness of our family, with a big nod to the numerous signs of comfort we received related to birds. Jack is reaching out to the sky, to the future, his future. I see this small painting every day and I love it.
Now that our family is no longer in the cloud of grief, I consider this painting anew.
While I used to think it represented our family: Margaret, Tim, Anna and Jack-- with the bird bringing us comfort from above, I now wonder if it now represents Margaret, Tim, Anna, and little Andrew, with the bird being our rare bird, Jack, who continues to comfort us, guide us, and cheer us on, even after all of these years.
For those of you who look at grief as a LIFE SENTENCE-- a life sentence of sadness and pain-- I'd like to suggest reframing it as a LOVE SENTENCE. Your love for the one who died, and his for you, will never diminish. It will stay real and vibrant all the days of your life and beyond, and eventually you will be able to think of him with a love that is no longer tainted by the LACK that feels so strong right now.
That is my experience most days at 7 years in, and it is my hope for you, for me, for all of us.
As usual, this is so well said, Anna. You capture so many of the feelings I had after losing my brother, now more than 30 years ago which pales in comparison to the feelings my parents have. I remember all the emotions, the "phases" as they come and go and come and go. I know you must be a comfort to others who've also "lost" a child. You absolutely nail it. I think of you always, but especially in heavy rains and especially at the beginning of the school year. As always, I'm sending you love and hugs. We do learn to live with our losses but it never means we've moved past or forgotten those who've passed on.
So beautiful Anna. Every time I read your blog now, I think about Nicole Hughes and her son, Levi. I think of Andrew as your gift from Jack and I agree with you about the painting 100 percent. I hope Levi sends a gift from heaven to his family too.
So well said....."a Love sentence "....what a wonderful perspective.
Beautifully written and ever so encouraging as well. Thank you. (It is hard to believe that it's been 7 years now.) Love and many blessings on your dear family.
Beautifully written Anna! ♥️
Bless you for what you have written here. Am certain it will help others who suffer from a great loss or losses. Am going to share what you wrote in hopes it has a large audience. Thank you <3
Love is stronger than death, as you know. Thinking of you and your family.
Beautifully written. Jack will always remain in our hearts.
So beautifully written, and so true. It's been almost 5 years since I lost my Jack, and I never would've imagine that I could feel the love more than the lack. But nowadays, that really is the case...at least most days. Thank you for being such a source of comfort and inspiration for me and for others. Sending so much love to your family today. Jack must be so incredibly proud of you. xoxo
Hats off, dear Anna... Been reading your blog all these years, even though I don’t comment much these days. Thinking of you always and wishing you all the best.
Prayers for your sweet family!!!
We are 7 years in of losing our sweet son Aidyn sept 5, 2011. I can relate to your words. Can't beleive 7 years have gone by. The early days of grief is so ugly and raw. Thank goodness it doesn't stay that way. My love & longing for him is endless.
I loved reading your book. I could relate to your raw emotions so early on.
I enjoy reading your blog. 😊
Monday, September 10 marks six years since my son was stillborn at 39 weeks, and I feel very much like I could have written this myself. This grief is absolutely a love sentence. It’s forever. And that’s daunting at first, but to carry it means everything to me.
I've been thinking about you and your family since I read this last night. Praying for you all and I also sent your blog and book to a dear friend and former student of mine who lost her daughter suddenly. I'm devastated and heartsick for her. I knew she would find comfort here through your faithful heart and gifted words.
God be with you, Anna. Jack was such a precious boy. Thank you for sharing your heart with us all.
I lost my son. He was 35 years old. His funeral was a week ago. I can hardly bear the pain. Please pray for me.
Love to you today.
So beautifully written....quite the powerful message.
So beautifully written....quite the powerful message.
The night before I was scheduled to have a C-section with my first born, a boy, I read about the loss of your son on your blog. When I think back on the birth of my son, I always think about Jack and your family - the news just hit me at such an emotional time that it will always be tied to those memories. My son turns 7 on Saturday, and just wanted to thank you for sharing your life. I know you've helped so many who are going through the awfulness of loss.
I was just thinking of you the other day as my last teen started her senior year in school. I'm so glad you posted these tender feelings and wisdom...a Love Sentence is so perfect. Sending warm thoughts and gratitude.
Love to you and Tim, Margaret and Andrew during this crapiversary week. I think about you guys all the time.
I agree about healing, but to me, it felt more like being transformed. Like coming through a fire and as it diminishes the pain a little bit at a time, becoming a different person somehow. I have always appreciated your honest approach to your experience and your feelings, which is an incredibly difficult thing to do in this culture. Our culture here in the US can make one experiencing grief feel crazy.
All I know is, talking about your loved one always plus crying or doing whatever it takes to allow yourself to feel the grief is the only way to come through the fire. Love Nance (and Amanda)
Thanks for sharing. You are absolutely right that you can be a quide and a light for the rest of us who are starting down this ugly path of child loss. We are coming up on 6 months since Banner went to Heaven and I am longing so much for my 7-year-old to be here with us, starting 2nd grade with all his peers. I'm still on the messaging list with all the other parents and I need to politely excuse myself as they wish each other a happy school year and discuss the parent-teacher meetings this weekend.
Thanks for showing us a way forward.
Love and prayers, dear stranger xx
I will never forget Jack and or that day.I think of your son often even though we've never met. Reading what happened and following you on your journey in the early stages stuck with me. I think I will remember it for ever. And each time I see a bird I think of Jack. I said long ago that I would never forget and pray for you all and I've continued to do so. You will always be in my heart.
Virtual hugs to you. I lost my 13 year old son 22 months ago. Your writing is beautiful and I hope one day to feel as you have described.
I have been reading your blog for years and am not sure why I've never noticed how close the anniversary of Jack's accident is to the day my Laynee drowned. She died September 7, 2009. Nine years and it still takes my breath away. I've come to terms with the fact that it's going to hurt for the rest of my life. My own book has been edited and will be out in print soon. I'm borderline terrified. I know that my story needs to be told but it feels so vulnerable. Prayers to you and your family in this dreadful month of September.
thanks for sharing
I really love the LOVE SENTENCE, I so appreciate that.
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