Grief / Mental Health / Suicide survivor

For you: friends & resources in grief and life’s multitudes

Mom died. I’m thirty. I don’t have many friends with dead moms…Also, it’s MY dead mom: the actionable advocate for the underserved. The realist. The mom that was always there, no matter the circumstance. …But also wouldn’t let me get away with shit, even as a 30-year-old. The ultimate in mom goals.

So mom is dead. I have a 6 month old disabled baby who I LOVE DEARLY and is living a life (so far) that seems constantly at-risk, too.

After years of obsessing over taking pics of avocado toast on portrait-mode, thinking I’m cool beans swagger for vibin’ at tech conferences, hiking in Patagonia sweatshirts, loving lush bath bombs, and raging over instagram influencers…Suddenly I’m like. Wait.

What is life…? Does any of this even matter? IsuddenlyDGAF about all of it.

So, not long after mom died, my bff fRam human Darrian gifted me No Happy Endings by Nora McInerny. Which, of course, sent me on a borderline-creepy-stalker mission (Sorry, Nora! Love you!) to learn more about Nora and her personal life’s work.

As I googled, post-mom’s-death, this TED Talk was one of the first things that I found. I remember watching with Aaron and we just cried and yelled YES! OMG! YES! NORA GETS IT! (Also, there are more than 5 MILLION views of Nora’s TED Talk. That’s a lot of grief and people needing realistic connection, eh?)

Nora knows.

Fast forward nine months. A pandemic sweeps the globe. We’re on full lockdown. Sloan is high-risk and there’s a segment of the population that is viewing her life as less-than in a pandemic.

And, suddenly, (like so many others) Aaron and I are facing mental health crises too.

Aaron, June 2nd, dies by suicide.

And that’s when avocado toast, my gaf attitude, vegetarianism, cUtE CoFfEe LyFe, and all things I cared about ever went out the window and I just survived. Sometimes not eating, sometimes eating a boujee rare steak I hadn’t eaten in years. Either way: survival.

Don’t die, Kari. You have a kid now. It’s all on you. K THX.

So, to avoid dying from heartbreak, I turned back to Nora and her life’s work again. Because Nora – and her friend Moe – are the hottest young widows who started a thing called the hot young widows club. While an online support group doesn’t exist now, you can find amazing resources – like the book. OH, THE BOOK!

The Hot Young Widows Club.

Guess who gifted me this book? Lol. Darrian, of course. Who else?!? She gave it to me just a week after Aaron died. …And from what she’s told me, she had a few people cringe as she bought it: worried it was too soon for me.

It wasn’t too soon. Darrian knew it was my inescapable reality that just made everyone else around me awksies, because they could escape what I couldn’t, so she leaned into it with me instead of avoiding. I love her for that.

I scooped up that book and it was the first thing I read right after Aaron died.

People say weird shit when your fam dies. And they tend to say especially weird shit when your identity, friendship, and love was wrapped up in another human since high school: who dies a complicated, sudden, unnatural death that throws everyone around you into such a major cognitive dissonance they can’t quite see how painful and lonely widowhood from your bestie is.

I was surrounded by many people who loved and cared for me: wanting me to survive too.

And yet I also felt so, so alone. Then realized there’s a small community of others who are way-too-young widows who get it, too.

TTFA and Nora helped me feel sad and grieve mom’s death.

Then Nora, Moe, THYC, and TTFA helped me survive Aaron’s death. I was in such a state of grief for months, I was waiting to die too. It was as if the grim reaper was ever-present, standing next to me: a presence only I could feel and see.

I didn’t die, though. And guess what, I’m still here! FUN FOR YOU! (That’s sarcasm. Sarcasm doesn’t translate well online so here’s my clarification lol.)

Sometimes I think I still might die – depends on the day – but I’ve learned a routine of watching real housewives, keeping up with my meds and therapy, eating the chocolates in trail mix, and drinking gallons of diet coke gets me through it.

And most importantly: Sloan, Kassie, and my friends. Also also, this online community.

Anyway, this is quite possibly the longest way to say: as I now feel so honored to have my own TTFA episodes going live on the podcast, I wanted to share my experience and gather some of the Nora/TTFA-related resources that helped me the most along the way. (Links below.)

If you’re feeling that dark, lonely, grim-reaper-esque energy following you in the throes of the worst: this might help you, too. It did for me.

Thank you Nora, TTFA, Moe, Hannah, Marcel, Jordan, and anyone I didn’t get to talk to along the way. Can’t say it enough.

So much love and realness.


(This is a starter pack…There’s so much more, so get to googlin’ yourself!)

TED TALK | Nora McInerny: We don’t “move on” from grief. We move forward.

PODCAST | Terrible, Thanks for Asking.

NORA’S BOOKS | The Full List

NYT ARTICLE | Grieving Shouldn’t be a Privilege

NPR | Life’s Rough Edges