I’ve been scarce here. Honestly I’ve felt like there’s an elephant in the room I needed to address, and I really didn’t want to do it. Now it’s time to acknowledge it here because I really am okay; shaken, but okay.
If you’ve read my blog before, you know I’ve experienced a great deal of loss. My biggest fear isn’t my death; it’s more loss. It’s being left here alone without any of my loved ones. It’s a fear that takes my breath away at times when one of my guys is late coming home or doesn’t answer a text.
On March 31, “it” happened again. My 36 year old nephew didn’t answer my texts. He was found dead in his bathroom by his roommate. According to most of the world’s Big Book of Grief Rules, losing a nephew doesn’t mean much. But this wasn’t any ordinary nephew I saw once in a while or sent a birthday card with $20 and forgot about him the rest of the year. No, this child was like one of my own, like my little brother, and I miss him terribly.
Sean’s parents divorced when he was 3, and my brother got custody. He spent many summers with us when he was growing up and lived with us for a few years as an adult. I was just 18 when he was born and since he had a mom, a stepmom, and a very involved grandma who was more like his mother than anyone, I was the big sister who listened and understood his angst. His was not an easy life, but there was always laughter when he was with us (and quite a few tears, mostly from laughing!). We were more like siblings especially after my brothers died. He was an only child, I had become an only child, and we were united in dealing with my parents. We could be as honest and weird with each other as we needed – no judgments – we “got” each other in a way that nobody else ever did. We were in frequent contact; Sean’s death is significant in my life. My own sons thought of him as their older brother and to know we’ll never have those wildly silly experiences with him again is incredibly heartbreaking for all of us.
In the two months ince Sean died, I’ve realized something (again) that I’ve always known. I would – and I do – survive losing my loved ones. I would survive more loss. I AM surviving more loss. It’s unthinkable that I would survive losing my husband and two surviving sons but I would. I certainly don’t want to!! But if I had to, I could.
How? I’d do it the way I always do – be with others who understand, be with myself in whatever state I’m in, and find a way to reinvest in life. Currently I’m a pastoral care assistant at a church which provides me with a much needed perspective shift when I feel a pity party coming on. For me, helping others helps me find a reason to get up in the morning. Being with people who don’t do the platitude dance certainly helps too.
I pray I don’t have to go through this again. But truthfully, I’m going through it every day because grief doesn’t really end. I choose to remember the good memories though. I choose to find joy and beauty everyday. On those days that are incredibly hard, I acknowledge that and look that elephant in the room straight in the eye. I give myself permission to grieve. Then I pull myself up by the bootstraps and remember how blessed I am to love and be loved.
Sean, you were so loved, and always will be. Thank you for being you.
Sean Michael Wilder
July 31, 1979 – March 31, 2014
We will forever feel your presence and love you always.