Family / Grief / Mental Health / Suicide survivor

Secrets of lost loved ones: an encouraging thought of love and luck in grief

Grief meets us in all capacities. All emotions.

Joy. Anger. Sadness. Confusion. Frustration. Longing. Celebration.

As time moves forward and I live with grieving my mom and husband, there is one thought and feeling that continues to bubble up for me through every emotion, conversation, experience, and reminder I have involving them.

And this thought? It’s a simple one…

I carry the privilege of knowing them best.

Now I don’t say this with a tone of arrogance or romanticism. It’s fact. We all have people we love and know best in our life.

For me, that will always be my mom and Aaron. I will continue to carry and honor their full perspectives on their own lives, relationships, and how they viewed the world. And that’s where my own lost love, grief, and an odd take on luck begins.

…How lucky am I?

This thought bubbles up often for me.

If you know anything about me, you know I am fundamentally against finding bright sides or looking for the positive simply for the sake of avoiding difficult, hard moments. Yet…The thought of my luck in knowing my mom and Aaron – of all people on this earth – always gets me in the feels in an uplifting way.

This thought is my positive reminder that I gravitate toward when times get heavy and grief is darkest.

Why? Because…

How lucky am I to carry this knowledge? These secrets? How lucky am I to have known them best?

How lucky am I to have thousands of mundane photos, messages, texts, voicemails, and endless reminders from Aaron clogging up my phone? Something not a single other soul on this planet carries.

How lucky am I to have listened to my mom as she sipped and (metaphorically) spilled tea about politics, friendships, life, and love every morning, afternoon, and evening? Telling me things that I will keep a lid on until I die too.

How lucky am I that when I am faced with difficult conversations, people they weren’t fond of, or opinions and perspectives they would disagree with: I know exactly what they would think and do?

The luck and love runs deep.

Immediate Survivorship is Hard

As an immediate survivor to two great lives lost: I’m familiar with the tropes and the platitudes.

I’m familiar with watching as people who weren’t close to the dead scramble to dig up memories, scramble to find their place in the story, and scramble to create narratives to feel included – or worse – avoid hard conversations and memories from the past. Many times creating a false narrative…Or two…Or three.

I mean…I get it, to some extent.

Surviving the dead is the worst. It’s difficult and life-altering. Everyone experiences it differently. It turns some people into assholes, some people into givers, some people into takers, some people into social creatures, and some people into hermits. (FWIW: I think I turned into a giant blob of tears, real housewives, and diet coke – but that’s not really relevant here. Another post for another day…)

During (and after) both my mom and Aaron’s memorials, there were moments that a few sporadic people popped up who were most concerned with honoring their own grief than honoring the lives we actually lost. They were more worried about things like their involvement in ceremonies, how often they were shown in photos, and how close people perceived them as being to the dead: even if that wasn’t actually reality when they were alive. And sometimes these people weren’t even liked or respected by my mom and Aaron: making these moments even cringier and harder to watch for me and/or my family.

These moments are so difficult.

They especially hurt the most when you are simply trying to survive and honor the lives of those who died.

If you’ve ever experienced any of the above, you get it. And I know many of you do, because in this small (but super cool and screwed up) community of grievers: a common theme that we all understand is that people get weird when people die.

Especially to the closest, immediate survivors of the dead.

And yet in the end, all you want – as someone who just loved that whole person who died – is to honor them and their truth.

For me, that’s all I wanted from day one of their death and continue to want as Sloan and I move forward without both my mom and Aaron by our side.

The point of this whiplash-ey post.

So, why do I share these small glimpses into what it’s like facing life’s biggest losses?

Why have you experienced major whiplash in going from what seemed like a positive take, to discussing a few harsher realities of being an immediate survivor of the dying or dead?

Because when faced with the public – whether that’s the asshole grievers, the takers, or the people who prioritize their own perception over reality: you, too, can always do what I do. It brings me some unusual comfort. And you can make it as wholesome or shady as you’d like – given the circumstance and person you’re honoring.

I remember that one simple thing….How lucky am I?

…How lucky are you?

So…How lucky are you?

How lucky are you to have the secrets and memories shared with those who have died? I know I carry some pretty damn good secrets of my dead family members. I’m sure you do, too.

How lucky are you to watch as people do that crappy performative grief thing, share stories that resonate with only them, and yet – you, and only you, carry the keys. Because you know those who have passed would be raging, laughing, and cringing at the things being said and done right alongside you.

How lucky are you to remember the mundane? Carrying a phone and heart clogged with endless memories and love, knowing and remembering a depth of your dead loved ones that others will never understand?

Death isn’t fair. It never will be fair. And it doesn’t pick and choose fairly, either. Nothing actually happens for a reason – despite what Pinterest or the latest MLM boss babe tries to tell you.

Yet – unfairness, lack of reasoning, and all – how lucky are you to have loved them the way you did?

And how lucky are they to have someone like you on this earth – still honoring the reality of their truth, love, and legacy in the most selfless, open-hearted way?

Really. …How lucky are we?

<3 – Kari

A few of the mundane, lucky moments I miss – always clogging up my phone…