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29 January 2010


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Amen to that, well said, as always.


Beautifully written, though I hate that you know so much about grieving. Thinking of you and your family often.


Holy moly this was a good post. I learned a lot. I'm so glad that you have good friends and family helping you through a very lonely path.

Tam King

Around nine months ago, I commented on your page to say that I was so sorry to hear you had lost your precious son, and that a friend of mine was going through the exact same thing, almost simultaneously. You so kindly emailed me, saying "that sucks" or something to that effect. And you were so, very right. It does suck. It's total shit that you lost your precious Thalon, and that you know so much about grief. It's total shit also, that I lost my precious daughter Ariana on the 5th of January, aged 4 days. Everything you said about what to do and say is true. To me its correct. I just wish i could have handed that out three weeks ago.


Love you, mama. And am thinking you need to write a book.


I don't know where your talent for words comes from, but this post is amazing. I realize you are grieving and I can't understand it because I haven't gone through it, but I also know your expression is the most educational thing I will read today, this week, this month


What a beautiful and incredibly cogent post. You are so right! Grief is a singular experience. No two people grieve exactly the same. All you wrote is excellent advice.

This morning after Mass I saw and acquaintence and said to him, "it's coming up soon, isn't is?" He said, "it's today." (the anniversary of his 19 yr old son's suicide) I said I would keep him in my prayers. Even though my heart breaks for him, I'm at a loss for words. Probably because there just aren't any words.

When I lost a baby through miscarriage and more recently when my husband was having major cancer-related surgery, the things I appreciated most were when people noticed a need and filled it without asking or being asked. A meal just showed up, I came home from the hospital late at night and the next morning realized someone had cut my grass. It took some detective work to find out who did it. Another neighbor emailed as soon as she heard about my husband's cancer and said, "Smith's Dog Care at your service." I didn't have to worry about the two dogs during hours and hours of tests, doctor appts., and long days at the hospital. She let herself in and let the dogs out. Another neighbor came over when my husband had an accident with the mitre saw and cleaned up the blood.(my hubbie is fine, btw, just a little drama.)

There may be other acts of kindness which I'll never know about because I was 100% focused on something else. But I'm grateful nevertheless because these things filled a need which would have fallen on me, even if only to have to find someone to take care of it. It is comforting to be cared for. And I'll probably never know how many countless hours were offered in prayer for us, which I appreciate most.

Thanks for this beautiful post!


Why is it so hard to know what to do for people who are grieving? Most of us have experienced loss in our lives.




You and your family are never far from my thoughts, and always in my prayers.

Cincinnati, Ohio



Keeping you in my thoughts.


This was good. Major twinge of guilt because that whole "How ARE you?" pops out of my mouth far too easily - you know, with the full on pity on the "are". I've been working on it; one of my son's friend's grandma died and when I saw the mom and she broke the news to me, I did manage to stop and simply spit out an "I'm so sorry for you, Jan." And hugged her. And then grabbed her later to tell her I would come pick up her son the day after the funeral to give him and them a break. But man, it is so hard to not say "how are you?" I think those three words have becomea an automatic response in society; you see an acquaintance at the mall and you say "hi, how are you?" even though honestly, you probably don't care. It's like saying "let's do lunch." Yeah, we have NO intentions of doing lunch but we feel better for saying that. So maybe the "how are you" is about ourselves - feeling good because we act like we care. Gosh, that's terrible...I don't think I like what I'm saying :( Ah well.

Go take some pictures of your girls in the snow today :) That's an order.


I am glad you put this out there.

Debby Pucci

Thank you for sharing this with me. I am learning as I go along. I have dear friends who lost their son 10 years ago to suicide. I called their house and the husband answered and I said "How are you doing" and it was wrong. I didn't really understand that at the time. I have since apologized for saying that.
People need to know this.


Shana, this should be printed in booklet form and handed (er, force-fed) to every high school graduate, every pastor's wife... the list is too comprehensive. I'll stop there.

How very, very right you are.


Thank you for this. For all of your posts.


Fuck grief. Fuck sadness. Fuck death. Fuck showering. Fuck throwing out old pants. Fuck things that are taboo. Fuck things that are kosher. Fuck saying the right thing. Fuck doing the right thing. Fuck it all!
Grief is a singular feeling - and it doesn't matter what someone does or says - it really doesn't make a dent, at least not for me. I've been grieving for a year about something that everyone just wants to sweep under the rug because it isn't pleasant to think or talk about. So I carry this bitterness around inside of me.
My entire life I've followed the rules and did what was right but I must have horrible karma because the black cloud over my head follows me everywhere! No one understands and at this point I don't expect people to - because no one ever says what they are really thinking or really feeling. When I decide to finally say and do what I am really thinking I'm called "too aggressive". People don't want to be around me because I don't candy-coat, I'm "too aggressive". I suppose reality is too aggressive for some people. Blarg.
My husband and I are going to Mexico tomorrow for a little getaway - and guess what? It's calling for rain every.single.day. BLACK CLOUD, BLACK CLOUD - Go away! You've punished us all enough.


Oh and P.S. NO I do not have anger issues!!! Sheesh.


Shana, i agree you should publish this in some form~being someone who has dealt with grief{husband} this is the "best" written thing i have read~my thoughts are often with you~often when i am at my lowest, i will come here and read~you are such a strong person that you inspire me to be stronger


This is a wonderful post. I too, have seen much death, because I'm a nurse, specifically for the elderly. This has made me cold... So as not to get too close I sty VERY detached, and I am often left wondering what to say or do... This is something I would love to change about myself and this was just what I needed to start.


I'm the asshole that says the wrong thing in every situation. When it's been my turn to grieve, people are shocked at my flip humor and sudden tears, and sometimes they are really offended.

I'm so grateful for this post. I doubt it will keep me from being completely stupid (as I am wont to be in these situations), but I'll come back to it in times of doubt.

I am ever here, ever supporting, worried and caring and hopeful and thankful that you are here and sharing all of this with us. Please, if there is anything I can ever do for you from clear over here, I'll do it.


Ok, I guess now would be the time to tell you that I have had a rememberance gift for you for at least six months now. Everytime I get sit to write my thoughts on a letter to send along with the gift, it sounds stupid and empty. Why, because I have my family intact. I have no words that will take away anything that that you faced or will face, but it does help to know that your friend bugging you and sending you these stupid things does help. BTW, the next time you are late just fart and say, "You see this is what I was trying to protect you from..." Love you girl!!!


Good post and I just want to say that it is coming up to my beautiful 18 year old son's suicide anniversary(he was schizophrenic but not for 18 years- he was mostly and always my lovely son and baby boy!) - it will be 18 years since he died and then it will start to be longer that he has been dead than he was alive. And, I don't know, there is no right or wrong anything- everything is wrong, really because, you know, he is DEAD.
Of course I "got on with my life"- well, not "of course", really,some people don't but I had a 9 year
old at home. However, I joked, being a big proponent of black humour and irreverence like you are, that I would have a nervous breakdown "when I had time".
It turns out that there is no such thing as a joke- I had time the year we went on sabbatical and my 9 year old started university so it was the first time I DID "have time", as it were. Why am I still here?
Therapy, but, really, I tried that and many different therapists- none of whose names I even remember! Not a word of it, where it was , nada!
But finally, fate or something connected me with the right person and I still see her every week, 10 years into therapy.It is the best thing I ever did. She LITERALLY saved my life (another post)
I don't know how to tell you how to do/find/arrange this but I HOPE it so much for you. The other saving thing is your other kids. I thank [god?, whomever?] for mine every day. Know that you are thought of by one who knows where you are coming from, and I am so sorry that we both do.


You Rock, you really do. I love you and I love reading your blog! You are amazing with your honesty and I admire you.


Hugs to you Shana. That and, uh, fuck, I'm sure I've asked someone not ever how they were doing, but more of a "how are you holding up?" and well, not because I expect an answer, but because, fuck, what do you say? Aside from "I'm here." What the hell do you say?

Wishing you the best. Today, always.


I have personally ALWAYS hated when someone starts spewing crap about it being "God's will," or "a reason for this to happen,everything happens for a reason." That's always seemed like such bullshit to me. I think that there are sometimes just no reasons at all for some things that happen. I believe in randomness in the universe, and that shitty things sometimes happen for absolutely no good reason at all.


I was hoping for a picture of the pink sweatpants....
Very well written Shana.

Tracy in Huntington Beach, CA

I don't even know what to say....I've started three posts...re-written them...and then said "fuck it". There is nothing to say...just as there's nothing meaningful to say that doesn't sound cliched or self righteous in the face of soul shattering grief.

Fuck death. Hard. With something blunt and sandpaper like. There's nothing, at all, good about it.


Right on. That "It's God's Will" crap makes me livid. I like to ask the person, "would you say that line to yourself if it were YOUR kid? I didn't think so.."
I've never met your family, I never got to smother the adorable Thalon with kisses..but he's never too far out of my thoughts and neither are you. My son wishes he could hang out with your daughters because kids share confidances with other kids in the same crappy boat more than they do their moms and dads when they lose someone close.
Just know you are a big bunch of awesomeness to us.


I'm so glad you wrote this.

{How about Them Crooked Vultures?! YEahh.}


As you know from coming over to my blog (thanks by the way, stop by anytime!), my co-worker lost her 4 year old right before Christmas. The first time I saw her, she looked awful, as one would totally expect, but what I didn't expect was my reaction. I said just said hi, smiled a little smile that hopefully let her know I care for her, then went to my office and bawled. I felt SOOOOOO bad for her, and I thought of you.

Thank you for writing about your experience, Shana, though God knows I wish you were writing about other things because this wasn't in your life. Because you've shared your thoughts, I've been able to be around this person and be sensitive and (I hope) not intrusive. And I don't burst into tears when I see her now, which I'm glad of. I'm sure that would just make her feel dandy (\sarcasm). Not that she doesn't already.

Ashley Hast

I'm pissed that you even have to write such a post. It's not fair. Suckfest Eternal. But I'll share my blanket with you. :)


this is a great post. everyone is different, but i am certain that much of what you are experiencing others have and will. i have a friend who lost a teenage daughter to an illness, they lived abroad and i remember her telling me on a visit back home that she did not remember anything from the year after her daughter died, nothing, people would thank her for things she had done and she did not remember, reminisce about events with her other kids, nothing. although another friend who lost a son (shit i know a lot of people who have lost children - two that i am close to is more than enough) as a young adult in a car accident - became obsessed with angels, and believing that her son's spirit was close by. everyone is different. i always try and share my memories of their children when i have them. this is reminder to keep up with that.

hang in there. you are not alone.

Jill VT

Ugh. Wind knocked out of me. Thinking of you and praying for you.


I'm one of those people that struggles to say and do the right thing. I've also been on the receiving end. I think mostly it's because we all want to turn back time and make it so it never happened.

You and your family are never far from my thoughts.

grace monk

Love to you and deep, sincere, futile apologies for the stupidity of us all. From one of those crazy-ass teachers (high school, special ed at that at a Title 1 school, God help us all...)


Thank you thank you for this post - prayers are still heading your way from Minnesota. Hang in there.


Hey mama...I've heard it before too - "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." I always swore the next person that said that to me, I would punch square in the face, for reals. Well, more people said it, and I was afraid of a law suit, so no swinging happened, but I was so angry and upset, and without answers. And the whole, the answers will be revealed to you in time bullshit is just that, bullshit. Your writing is raw and beautiful. NEVER feel like you have to say that you are talking about death AGAIN, because this is your place to do whatever the eff you want.

Michelle (There must be two of us from Cincinnati.)


Because all this someone wants to say is, "today, I woke up and my son was dead. Yesterday, I woke up and my son was dead. Tomorrow I'll wake up and my son will be dead. All I want to say is I hate you but I can't because I hate everyone and their happy lives. Because once, my life was full of happiness and while it is still full of happiness, it's not."

wow, that's profound. seriously, hubby needs a BJ for that one. That's good.

Also, stop getting all Jake Gyllenhall with the sweatpants. if you got that reference, you can keep them, i suppose.


I totally agree that you should put this into a leaflet to be handed out when dealing with Loss and Grief.. My daughter was born still born just before xmas, and I honestly feel like I will end up in jail if 1 more person says to me "everything happens for a reason"
Thank-you for sharing and for being so "real"


I agree - and so glad you are telling people who might listen to stop telling people in agony that whatever event of loss caused their agony that it was God's will. Arrgghh!

Oh, and btw, I love you.

Sending virtual red bull, hugs, and the ever popular homemade mac 'n' cheese.


This is heartbreaking. After my father passed away, my mother would just throw the mail on his desk and wouldn't open it. He always handled the mail. This went on for a year and I thought I would do her a favor and bag it up. She went hysterical on me and I didn't understand why at the time. I just wasn't thinking the same way she was, I just saw clutter.

Hugs to you, momma.

Shannon Kieta

No matter what I say Shana, nothing will ever mean as much as...I love you! Shannon :)


So true. So very true.

Jessica M

Many of these things are very close to how you should handle things when I person has a miscarriage too. When I had my miscarriage I wanted to rip the faces off the people who said, "It was probably for the best"(who the hell says THAT!!! It was not for the best that I am no longer pregnant), "At least you know you can get pregnant (WHAT?!?!?! What good does do it get pregnant if I NEVER have a child. Last I check the pregnancy wasn't the best part, and other stupid comments like that. A simple "I'm sorry for your loss, do you need anything" would have sufficed.
I think you should make a brochure of this! Maybe you can title it "Before you put you FOOT UP YOUR ASS read this"

Shana in Texas

This is good stuff. I jut I hate that you and some of the commenters above know this subject so well. If it weren't creepy and stalkerish, I'd come hang-out with you and your pink sweatpants. I agree the amnesia is a protective thing. As a pre-teen I blocked-out a lot of what happened after my parents' divorce and it wasn't even "bad" just traumatic for my psyche. And, screw anyone for ragging on you for being late. You showed up to their lame event, didn't you? Happens all the time for stupid reasons like letting my nails dry.


I wish I could staple this to my head. We lost my beloved father-in-law to cancer on Dec. 20th and the number of people who said patently boneheaded things in the days immediately following.

My husband is an atheist, and hearing someone say "your father is with the angels now" was not only the opposite of comforting, it was actively horrible.


My heart breaks for you. Thank you for sharing your feelings. Sending love and kindness to you via the 'nets.


My most recent round of nursing placement was in a palliative care unit, which I didn't so much enjoy but found extremely rewarding and interesting work, that I have started volunteering in the same area and am gearing up to make it my speciality. This post is a very honest, open and bang-on list of excellent advice.
One thing that I would add is that in my personal and working experience, even if the death is expected people will usually go down hill sometime quite after the event. Even just gently suggesting that maybe people need to get over it, work through it, get on with life is not helpful. STFU, hold their hand, listen, cook them a meal, pour them a drink but don't presume to know how they feel. I know it can be really, REALLY frustrating but even months later just being there and offering open acceptance is the most helpful thing you can do for the bereaved.

Sara K.

This was such a wonderful post, beautifully written. My dear friend lost her 5 month old a little over a year ago to SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy). One thing I have learned since his death is, friends (and relatives, they are not excluded) come to the funeral, may call for a few weeks, drop off a meal or two - but the vast majority of them stop calling, emailing, texting, whatever (basically just drop off the face of the Earth, and even though she may not have been up to talking or whatever, at least she knew that her loved ones were supporting her), and the next time they come around, weeks or months later, expect her to be fine, and think that she should "be over it by now"....W.T.F. Seriously?! I think that after that 2 - 3 week period after the funeral, when the phone calls quit coming, and people stopped coming by, etc, was really hard for her and her husband. I know they wanted to be left alone, but at the same time they wanted people there in their lives - hope that makes sense.
I have learned so much since last year about grief. Much more than I ever wanted to. I've stuck my foot in my mouth a time or two, and MAN I wish I'd had something like this to read back then. Thank you so much for being so blatantly honest and real, I think more people respond to honesty than being fed the bullshit.


Jackie Jacobs

I have lost an aunt and my only two siblings (brothers) in the past 4 months. I feel you.

And to think that not that very long ago, you were pregnant with that precious boy, I was waiting for the arrival of a new grandson, we were both happy in our worlds, and I was wanting to come and help you clean your toilet ..

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