Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sudden Grief

Got this photo from here

I’m with her and we are walking to find the bathroom in Macy’s. Pallas (my daughter) and I have just been bra shopping...for her.
A momentous occasion full of “Moooommmm!” and “Why are you looking at me that way?!”
She has requested this shopping excursion and I go along, resisting the urge to take photos and whip out the recorder to “document” the occasion. (Langston forbid me from documenting his first shaving lesson with our wonderful neighbor.)

We walk towards where the sales woman said we would find a restroom.
Completely unaware of the time, the casino-like lighting making me feel out of touch, in a dream like state.
We pass the mens clothing on the left.
I think “Huh, Art would look good in that.” Then chuckle, remembering his frustration. The day Banana Republic started selling tall clothing online was the day I tossed those ugly, but long enough jeans! His 6’6” frame too long for regular clothes.

I stop to touch a shirt as Pallas and I pass the rest of the lingerie department. I see the restroom sign off to the right.
I stutter step in my mind
“Fuck, is he?
Really….no way!
It just simply can’t be.
He’s never coming back? How can someone never come back?
I don't understand.”

The thought encases me in what feels like a full body plastic bag.
I run toward the restroom.
Hands to mouth to catch.
Open stall or not, I don’t care, I need to get it out of me.

It. Out. Of Me!

Pallas is running behind me, “Hey," she says disappointedly, "you can’t just decided to race without telling me!” Using her longer-than-mine legs to catch up. She notices my hunched run, reaches for me and says “Mom are you ok?”

There’s an empty stall
Lunch, bile and tears mix together
Into the toilet
which automatically flushes.

Loss swirling down.


  1. What a wonderful post. You described the "ambush" perfectly. I am a widow these last 18 months and I know exactly what happened to you. Thanks for sharing. It makes me feel like I'm normal rather than choosing to hibernate the rest of my life.

    Sandy Keith

  2. I am so sorry Kim. This actually happened to me as well except I was at my kids dentist. The lady I was checking out with asked about insurance. I explained that we had new insurance and took out the cards for her. She asked why we switched, did he (my husband) change jobs? No, I said, he passed away so we have different insurance now. Then I felt exactly as you described. I stood there a little too long, I didn't think I was actually going to be sick. I excused myself and ran to the restroom, thank goodness it was not occupied. My daughter was there as well, she knew. She put her hand on my shoulder as we walked out.
    She has been brought down a couple of times by sudden grief too, she feels ill when something causes her stress, like last years father-daughter dance at her school. She had planned to go with her friend and her friends dad. We had gone shopping for her and everything seemed fine. The night of the dance she was in bed, sick. I think it became too much all at once.
    The waves just keep coming. Sometimes I see it coming and just let it take over, but the ones that surprise me, or knock over one of my children, those are truly the worst.

  3. The first time I went shopping after Doug's death, I had to leave the store. I could not even walk near the men's department without crying. To this day (1 1/2 years later)I still avoid shopping expeditions. It's such a strange feeling to be so out of control over this, but I now understand why it is so heart wrenching.

    We want what was, to be able to have the life we had, with the person we loved. And then, yes, we realize they are never coming back, and never will our life be the same again. We may find love again, but there will always be this hole in our heart for that other love.

    I am so sorry for all of our losses.

  4. I still can't go back to my usual grocery store. The first time I went after my husband died, auto pilot had be me filling the cart with all the usuals. Until it hit me I don't like whole wheat bread and don't drink milk. Then it dawned on me that I had filled the cart with his favorites. I had to rush from the store and haven't been back.

  5. I still have those moments at 2.5 years.....I don't want anyone else. I want him. Just knowing how stupid that sounds brings me to tears. Of course, I can't have him back. I guess that's why it's so hard letting go.

  6. I agree with Cathy and both Anonymous comments. 5 months after Jim passed, I was shopping at our local grocery store during the Christmas season and went there especially to buy a small Christmas tree for his grave. Just as I got to the plant section, the Carpenter's "Merry Christmas, Darling" played and I had to leave immediately with tears streaming down and me trying not to hyperventilate while sobbing. I am into my 2nd year and today was a hard day, just wanted him back so bad. My birthday is this week and I just hate how I have to celebrate another birthday again without Jim.

  7. Tomorrow is my NH's birthday. My 9 year old daughter and I were card shopping for him. Never have I seen such anguish in my girl..."Oh mom, this is perfect, except it says "dad" on it"...She had such a hard time finding the right card...of course none said "step-father" on them...I cried for her, tried so hard to keep it in. She finally found a card and wrote some wonderful things inside. While we were out shopping for the perfect gift, I found so many wonderful gifts that would have been perfect for LH, but not for NH. I seriously struggled today. I wanted so badly to just leave, but I had to get a gift was the last day to shop. Don't get me wrong, happy to be married to a wonderful man, but I still miss LH It's been four and a half years.

  8. “Fuck, is he?
    Really….no way!
    It just simply can’t be.
    He’s never coming back? How can someone never come back?
    I don't understand.”
    Yep! That sounds all too familiar. Although I've never actually been sick from it. However I do recall feeling a wave of coldness, followed by heat as my head swirled and tried to make sense of the realization. Again.
    I'm at 16 months and walking past the men's clothing section still makes my heart flip-flop in sadness.
    Feel for you Kim. :(

  9. So right on, this past week the forever part of loss has been numbing. Is this really our life? Yes, yes it is. Thanks, all of you.

  10. I am five and half years widdowed and aged 70 how can i learn to live without him, I miss my family when we are apart I want to be with them every day but know this is not right and they must lead their own lives I fill my day time with good friends and volunteering but I yearn for family life again but know this cannot be love to everyone going through this xx