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It Comes in Waves


posted: 03/01/13

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

This would be where I normally say, “It’s Friday! Cheers!!” And while I certainly feel like raising a glass, it’s more just to my lips than in cheers.

For those of you who are new to reading Wine & Glue (hey, glad to have you! most posts aren’t so bummer-ific), you might want a little background before you really sink your teeth into this post. In addition to creating wreaths, castles, and delicious pies made out of cookies and breakfast bars, sometimes I write about me. Most of the time it has to do with these two hilarious little people I happen to be raising, Gavin & Quinn, but sometimes it has to do with the loss of my mom (you can read more about that here) and the loss of my son, Elliot (you can read more about him here).

Can I talk about grief a little bit today? I promise to get back to the glitter on Monday.

One thing I’m learning about grief is that it comes in waves.

I can go along for months, and feel really great. Even at times when people around me would expect me to be really struggling. For example, Christmas this year was okay. Lots of my good friends and family worried about me, but my memory of it was that it was filled with lots of holiday stress, but not a lot of grief.

And then there are other times that . . . suck. My birthday, for example, has been a really difficult time for me since my mom died, and losing Elliot has made it twice as hard. It is just a few days away from Mother’s Day, and I kind of hate it. I wish I could just erase May from the calendar each year.

And then there are times that sneak out of the blue. They reach up and grab you, like seaweed around your ankles, and try to pull you down into the deep dark depth of the sea.

This is one of those times.

Sometimes it lasts for a few days. Sometimes one day. Sometimes a week or two.

And I wish that I had a better grasp of what brings it on. Maybe that would help keep it at bay.

What I can say about right now is that it started with just thinking about them more. I mean, I think about Elliot and my mom everyday. Each. And. Every. Day. There is not a day that passes that I don’t think about them both. At least once. This is partly because there is reminders of them scattered through my house.

Pictures of Elliot in the living room, the family room, my bedroom, the hallways. The tree planted in his honor in my backyard. The urn that holds his ashes in my family room. The only picture we have of him without medical equipment, a 3D ultrasound picture. His siblings, running around, who share his features and sparkling spirit.

Pictures of my mom. Pictures of the roses that she spent years growing (she had over 50 rose bushes in her gardens when she passed away) hang in my kitchen. A picture of her and my dad on their wedding day is in my family room. My favorite photo of her in my living room. The last picture of her and I on my dresser. The quilt that my aunt made for her in my entryway. Her jewelry box on my dresser.

But even without these reminders, Elliot and my mom make up the fiber of who I am. And so does the loss of them.

But sometimes, they are in the forefront of my mind. At these times, a million and one things happen in a day that make their loss feel more tangible. That makes me ache for their presence in my life more.

Last week Gavin mentioned for about the billionth time that he wishes he had bunk beds. That he could sleep on the bottom and Quinn could sleep on the top. And for about the billionth time, Nathan looked at me with such sadness in his eyes. And I knew he was thinking that Gavin has been robbed of a little brother to share bunk beds with. (I realize that seems trivial. But to us, it is another wound on our hearts.)

A few days ago I overheard Gavin playing legos, and he named one of the characters Elliot. It simultaneously made me happy and heartbroken. I want him to remember Elliot. But more than that, I want Elliot to be here with him. I want to watch them fight. I want to watch them play.

Over the last few days, I have been watching Quinn and wishing my mom could have met her. The other day, I watched Gavin and Quinn give each other a long loving hug that brought tears to my eyes, and all I wanted to do was call my mom and tell her about it.

This morning on the radio, there was a segment called, “I still call my mom for _____ ”  In other words, what as an adult do you still need your mom for? Ummmm, everything. Seriously. If she were here I would call her everyday. And I would have to beg her to get texting so that I could send her pictures of my kids doing funny, hilarious, and annoying things everyday.

When I miss my mom and Elliot more than the norm, they are everywhere and no where all at once.

Yesterday, the thing that really put over the edge . . . ok, not over the edge, that sounds a bit dramatic . . . the thing that pushed me to tears, was a conversation with Gavin’s teacher.

She told me that Gavin had gotten in trouble the day before and as a result he had burst into tears. It brought up so many emotions for me. I was angry with what he did to get in trouble. I was empathetic because as a kid it was traumatic for me to get in trouble too. I was embarrassed for him. I was embarrassed for me. And I was annoyed that I was having such a reaction, because it really wasn’t that big of a deal.

But more than all of those things, I was sad. I was so desperately sad because I wanted to talk to my mom. I wanted her advice on what to say to Gavin. I wanted to ask her more about what I was like as a kid, and get her thoughts on dealing with a kid who finds it so traumatic to get in trouble. I just wanted to talk to her.

I know that as far as life goes, I have it really really good. I am not short on gratitude for the all the amazing things I have in life. But. There is something that feels so unnatural and so awful about being a mom without my mom. There is something so horrid about raising a family that is missing a child. And today, there is something that seems so terribly unfair about having to do both.

And I will be fine. I’m tough and scrappy like that. But today, I’m going to eat fudge and feel sorry for myself.

And probably make a second pot of coffee.

Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

Reader Interactions


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  1. Amy of While Wearing Heels says

    A poignant a beautiful post. 2 losses both so sad and hard. Both of which will be part of your for the rest of your life. I love that you have filled your home with so many things that bring back memories and though, it comes in waves, you are keeping them both alive through your memories.

    • Lisa says

      Amy, thank you so much for this kind comment. Its hard to write posts like this, but good for me at the same time. And I don’t think I could do it without the kind comments.

  2. Sandra Kohlmann says

    Don’t feel like any part of your grief is trivial. There is nothing small about the bunk beds. I have a little brother, who I never met. He would have been 22 this past January. On his birthday, every year, we still get my mom flowers and she still cries and we still cry. And then we do something joyful to remember him. And there is a part of me that would do just about anything to have a son, just so his name could carry on.

    • Lisa says

      Sandra, thank you so much for this comment. Though I would never tell them this, if one of my children named a child Elliot, it would bring me so much joy. Please give my love to your mom. I feel such a kinship with other moms who have lost children.

  3. Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust says

    I’ve never experienced the grief that you have gone through Lisa, but I would assume that depression is a lot similar. At least, what you describe, how it hits, how it lasts (or not) sounds like it. The feeling that cuts you off at the knees, for something that seems simple, but isn’t. I think that those moments, hopefully they will grow farther between them. I’m so glad that you have this outlet to share your feelings, because I think getting it out there is helpful…at least for me it is. I think you deserve your fudge and your pot of coffee and even a day of tears if you need them! You’re an amazing woman! ((Hugs))

    • Lisa says

      “The feeling that cuts you off at the knees, for something that seems simple, but isn’t.” Yes. This. You describe it so perfectly. Thank you for reading the words that aren’t glittery at all but are so important to who am. And thank you for understanding and supporting.

  4. Janet says

    Dearest Lisa – I can so relate to your post this morning. I lost my mom and dad within 3 years of each other. There are moments when . . . well . . . your description of seaweed sucking you under is perfectly accurate. I’d like to say it gets better, and it will temporarily, but it will rear its ugly head again, and you already know that. Fudge is my go-to grief medication too. I am sending you a big squashy motherly hug.

    • Lisa says

      Big squashy motherly hugs received. Thank you, Janet.

  5. Cathy Trochelman says

    Lisa – beautiful post, beautiful words….love is such a beautiful thing even when it is not pretty. You have taught me so much about grief, and even more about love….as always, I’m sorry you have to carry this load. I love you, my friend.

    • Lisa says

      Love you too, Cath.

  6. JJ in Idaho says

    I just found your blog “by chance” today, although I don’t believe in chance. I have not experienced this grief you write about, but I could not move on today without sending you a note to say I care and I am sorry. I love that you are willing to write about it so others can be comforted to know they are not alone, and so your readers understand that while you focus on the positive and you are grateful for your blessings, it’s important to stay real with the tough stuff as well. I know you are not looking for any advice, but I can’t help but share the name of a book that has helped me and countless others with the unthinkable things that sometimes happen…. Holding On To Hope by Nancy Guthrie. This author has lost children too and this amazing book is worth your time. Blessings to you and your family!

    • Lisa says

      Thank you JJ. Your kind words mean so much to me, and I don’t really believe in chance either. Though I wasn’t expressly looking for advice, it is appreciated none the less. Thank you.

  7. Julie Evink says

    Lisa, as a mom, I can’t imagine what you went through. As a daughter, I can’t imagine what you went through. Don’t feel bad about having days where you feel lost, and floundering. We all of them for different reasons. Eat that fudge, drink that coffee and process those feelings. It’s healthy. Just remember there are many people, some who you haven’t even met, out there pulling for you :)

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners



5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners