(ThinkStock Images)Sometimes readers do a better job of writing the story. That was the case with "The Way We Grieve Now", a post published Monday about unique rituals of grief. From the moment it was posted, comments poured in. They were unlike any I've read before. More than 1,000 readers shared their personal stories of loss and life after the fact. Some had just lost a loved one last week, others wrote of grieving for 20 years. Instead of the usual disagreements customary to message boards and comments sections, the post turned into a forum for testimony and support. Readers offered each other comfort and advice without judgment. Personal stories were told with such specificity and vulnerability that they elicited gratitude from total strangers. Some wrote directly to the person they lost, others detailed the events of the worst days of their lives or the singular memory they hold of the dead. The circumstances and suffering varied widely, but the reader reaction was a reminder that despite our differences, death is both constant and universal. Those left to live may feel alone, but their grief is understood. Especially when it's shared. Here are a few of the stories left by commenters.
- I lost my Mom almost a year ago, and there are times where I just feel like I can not breathe. The grief and loss that comes over me all at once is more than I can bear at times. There are times that my daughter plays the piano and I just can't breathe, I just can't listen. The songs she plays are the ones that my Mother taught her. The same ones that she taught me. My daughter finds comfort in this, I want to run screaming. On the other hand I can make some of the dishes (potato salad, deviled eggs etc) that I grew up with and find great peace and comfort and somehow I just know that she is right there helping along the way. At times I can sit and talk about my Mom at great length, other times I can't say one thing without bursting into tears. Sometimes it is one day at a time and other times it is one moment at a time.
- I recall a time when I actually called a friend whose husband had died, and I got the answering machine. She hadn't erased his voice on the machine, and I actually talked to the machine as if I were talking to him. Looking back, I felt a little stupid, but I still felt like I was talking to him.
- My sister died in 1998. In her memory, I wore her wedding gown on my wedding day in 2008. Even though it was my second marriage, I wanted her to be there with me and I felt it was a way of honoring her memory and feeling her presence. I know she WAS there because we got married on the beach up north and while the weather had been very unpredictable the previous weeks the day turned out to be sunny and gorgeous.
- My brother, a paramedic for a very large city, was killed two years ago by what we thought was a drunk driver while he was on his motorcycle on his way home to his wife and two children. Later, we found out he was run over on purpose - he was hit by a SUV going almost 100 mph - clearly a hate crime and racially motivated. We were devastated. I had no way of knowing then that his death would change me or our family so much. I used to think that life would go on when someone dies - and it does - but when some people die, their presence was so prevalent in our lives that their passing leaves an unfillable hole of depression and despair. Life will go on, but we will never be the same.
- I lost my son Ronnie in a head-on collision with a tractor trailer. He was only 38 years old. It happened May 7, 2009 in Lucerne Valley Ca. the Thursday before Mothers Day and 3 weeks before he was 39 years old. Every day I wake up, he is the first thing on my mind and every night before I go to bed I look at his picture. I dream of him all the time. I planted a flower at the crash site and was watering it every week but it got to be so hard to do this. Everyone says it takes time. Time is all I have left. I kept a lot of his things and look at them all the time. Maybe someday this will get a little easier. I "will" see him again someday. I know I will.
- My beloved father passed on August 10, 2010 and I am still in shock. I cope by working, but as soon as I return home, pass his bedroom, walk down the hallway, view family photos on the bookshelf, counters, and walls I quietly weep to myself and keep thinking that he will walk out his room and ask what's for dinner. As we ate our meal he would always tell me, " I'm tired of living" and I would respond quickly by saying, "Oh, Dad you're 85 and your grandmother lived to be 104". He would laugh and say, "Old soldiers never die, they just smell that way!" I love him very much and I will always cherish the memories, but I have mixed feelings of sadness, guilt, love, and confusion. I will cope and heal as time goes by.
- I lost one of my twin sons at the age of 27 last year. I grieve every single day for him. People are so insensitive in that they say "well, you still have one son left." Yes, that's true, but my children are my heart & soul & it's raining in my heart. Each child is different, they have their own personalities & I truly miss my son's sense of humor, his generosity & just everything about him, especially his hugs for me. I don't think we ever "get over" grieving. It hasn't faded for me & I surly don't want to ever forget how wonderful my child was & I do appreciate my other son, very much. I try to see him or call him as much as I can & as much as he allows! I tell him every time I talk to him that I love him. I too pray that there is another time & place where I will be reunited with my child.
- I lost my son 1 year, 4 months, 8 days and 1 hour ago. Every day I cry. I wake up every morning to the reality that he is gone. I have 2 of his shirts that he had on the day before he died with his scent still on them. I know I sound like I am nuts, but I go in my closet and look at his pictures and smell him. I live one day at a time. I don't know how long this will go on (maybe till I am gone, who knows). I lost him in a way that is so hard to get over. But I believe that I will see him again some day.
- My father died 15 years ago and every day I write his name along with the names of my deceased brother, grandparents, uncle and aunt. They are not here to write their names...I do it in honor of them.
- I lost my son at the age of 14 due to suicide (popular in our school district at the time), that was 17 years ago and it still feels like yesterday. I did not go to counseling, did not take meds and was ok but had a lot of so called friends tell a lot of BS stories. I did have a long talk with my daughter about the issue and we came to terms with the issue. So I take the day off work every year on that day to reflect the good times we had that day was December 7,1993.
- I lost my fiancee to a fatal accident 2 years ago today. I still wear the ring he bought me every day. He was a local DJ and also taught me to. So at least once every couple months I will book a DJ party just so that when the music starts I can feel him again. I still wear his t shirts to bed at night, and talk to him. The pain was so awful I began experiencing panic attacks and night terrors, which still occur just not as frequently. I am currently seeing a life counseling therapist and taking anti-anxiety meds to help, but the best therapy is spraying his cologne on his pillow before I go to sleep.
- My twin sister was murdered in January of this year. It's like the earth was knocked off its axis - I feel some days like I might have to drive myself to the pysch unit because I feel like I'm going crazy. However, it passes and I just continue to work through it one second, one minute, on hour at a time. Such a huge loss - miss her every day, all day long.
- when my cousin died, she was like my sister and we grew up together like sisters, i would send her emails and would IM her yahoo messenger...it wasnt a "not letting go" thing i think it was just "holding on to memories" thing, my way, we never used to see alot of each other physically but we talked ALL the time on messenger and emails..miss you sister-girl!
- I had a thought to pick up the phone and call my mommy yesterday to see how she was doing and to hear her sweet voice, but after a moment I remembered that she had died 2yrs ago. Yes in reality I never forget that she has passed away, yet sometimes for a moment I get lost in thought. Today when I get a sweet message on my phone, when it touches my heart to hear my little girls voice or hear my man tell me how much he loves me and there is joy in their voices, I think to myself...I better save this because you just never know... you never know when tomorrow may not come. Death has taught me so much about life and myself. My heart goes out to all of you that commented on this page.
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