It has been a hot minute. Or month. Or few months. I’m not sure. It’s just been a lot lately. Our lives have been very busy. Our work has been very hectic. We’ve been sick. There have been some very terrible individuals bringing us down. And I’ve felt all of it.
I’ve been feeling disconnected lately. I’ve been so hyper focused on trying to fix this ridiculous string of events at work. It has been all that I can deal with right now because as soon as one thing is cleaned up, another problem arises. I feel like the Little Dutch boy plugging the holes in the well. But I’ve run out of fingers and toes. And it’s all consuming.
So I went to a Support Group Meeting tonight at Hope Lives Here. I was supposed to be co-leading, however I needed this meeting and this reminder. I needed to be in a room where I could feel love. I needed to remember that the worst thing that could happen already has. I have survived loss multiple times and still managed to breathe and live my life every day. I needed to refocus my energy.
This work stuff is just secondary. These terrible people are meaningless in the grand scheme of things. I was allowing them to bring me down and pull my focus off of what is truly important in this life. I was in that room for 15 minutes when I realized that being there was vital. Sharing my truth and vulnerability with others and making connections is what keeps me whole. Being a part of that group helps to keep me grounded and sane. And I wasn’t feeling very sane when I walked through that door.
So I made the decision to block some people and move on with my life. I am actively working to close out this work project and take a breather. I am learning that I have power over how I react. Which is REALLY hard for me. Because I run hot. But tonight was a reminder that not everything deserves my temper, my attention or my energy. I can choose where I give that as well.
What’s crazy to me is that I even need this reminder. I’ve been at rock bottom and this is not it. This is just a speed bump that I let suck me in. And it probably won’t be the last one at that. All I can do is look at it for what it is and hope it will serve as a reminder in the future. And I need to keep connecting with my people. My heart and soul can feel when it’s been too long.
Writing gets this ‘stuff’ out of my head. It also helps me to process what I’m feeling and forces me to acknowledge it. It makes me accountable for my emotions.
I started watching Dead to Me, this brilliant, I want to cry, now I’m laughing, show when it first came out. They had me with the scene of Karen dropping off her ‘take on Mexican Lasagna.’ Jen’s bluntness in how she navigates her grief was shocking. And felt so good. People can say the dumbest things and she said so much of what I’ve been thinking.
I watched the first 2 seasons, but when it came time for season 3, I couldn’t. It was dark. And I had completely forgotten what happened in the first 2 seasons. So I roped the husband into watching it with me from the beginning. I had forgotten how brilliant (and dark) this show was. Christina Applegate does an incredible job of portraying someone navigating grief, while parenting, while working, while just trying to survive.
We were watching the show and I told my husband that Jen (Christina Applegate) is my spirit animal. She’s flawed, raw and honest. But she keeps her edge. She’s also very angry. The more I watched the show, the more I saw her use anger and sarcasm to try to cover the hurt. She cannot be sad. She cannot be vulnerable. She has to hold everyone together.
I relate to her character so much. But it’s hard to watch. Because I can see myself in parts of her. Not the parts where she kills people, but the using anger as a defense mechanism part. And I don’t like it.
Why is it so much easier to access the anger? I know what it’s covering, it’s not fooling me. But it’s my go to emotion. I’m hoping that by acknowledging it, I can move towards change. Because I need to realize that being vulnerable isn’t a bad thing.
Somewhere along the line I equated vulnerable to weak. I’m pretty sure it came from after my Mom died and my Dad fell apart. I so desperately needed a parent and he couldn’t handle it. He was a sobbing, drunken mess after my Mom died. I hated it. Because I think deep down I felt like I had to be the strong one. I had to be okay enough for everyone. I had to make everything ok enough so that I could make it through. That’s a lot to carry at 16. And I resented it.
I have a different perspective now on things. I’ve had to grieve with my children. I haven’t lost a spouse, so I don’t know what my father was going through. My forty something self has a little more empathy than my 16 year old self did. But I’m still angry.
My word for last year was grace. And it’s still something I’m learning to work through. I want 2023 to be about accessing my vulnerability instead of just my anger. I want to feel the emotions that my anger is covering up. I want to look at being vulnerable as a gift instead of a weakness. And if I’m still angry, that’s ok too. I just don’t want to use my anger as a go to to cover up what I’m really feeling. Because I won’t get through any of this by not being honest with myself.
I grew up surrounded by family on Long Island. My Mom was the youngest of 3 siblings, born from German immigrants. All of my Aunts and Uncles lived at the most 45 minutes away and for most of my life my Grandmother lived in an apartment a mile down the road from my house. My Mom’s (Tacke) family was a HUGE part of my life growing up.
There was always a family gathering in the summer, a pool party or a cookout. I spent holidays growing up with my cousins. Our Christmas Eve parties were idyllic. I cannot even begin to describe how absolutely perfect they were in my eyes as a child. We’d all dress up and eat and sing Christmas Carols. It felt as though my Tacke family could be a Norman Rockwell painting. And maybe it felt so much more normal because my Dad’s side was so dysfunctional. But even if it wasn’t as perfect as I recalled it to be, I’d like to remember it that way.
My Grandmother had an incredibly thick accent, even though she had come to the US when she was 19. She was the matriarch of our family and made of some strong, German stock. My Grandfather had died when my Mom was young, so my grandmother had raised her children on her own. She was a tiny woman, but a force to be reckoned with. That woman took care of her family. She got me off the bus, took care of me when I was sick and home from school and was always dropping off chocolate chip cookies or butter cake. She was always on the move, cooking or cleaning or doing our ironing.
My grandmother doted on my Mom. Now maybe that’s not true, but that’s how I saw it as a kid. Now that I’ve had 4 kids, I do see just how easy it is to coddle the youngest. She sold her house my Grandfather had built to move closer to us. She had a soft spot for my father who called her ‘Mom’ and always spoiled her. She was always over our house or we were dropping by her apartment for a meal. And some other family members were usually around. There was always someone there.
It wasn’t until I lost Benny that I realized how hard it must have been for my Grandmother to watch her baby die. She was more of the strong and silent type, around us kids anyway. But losing your child changes you. My Mom’s death was devastating to our family and in true Tacke style they rallied around us, or at least tried. My Dad didn’t make any of it easy.
My Grandmother lived to be 100. I was pregnant with Darcy and we had just found out it was a girl. Losing her was hard. That woman had been such a huge part of my life. But she had lived her life. I was sad for my loss.
My Uncle Bob tried to help after my Mom died, even though he was going through treatment himself. That man had more wit and humor than anyone else I knew. And always a smile on his face. I remember when he was in Massachusetts and he called me up and took Parker and I out to dinner. We had such a great night together, laughing and catching up. His positive demeanor was infectious.
When Darcy was a toddler, my Uncle’s cancer came back. He had been sick for so long and had fought so hard. Losing him was awful. He was such a huge piece of this family. And my Godfather. It was awful. Our family had already lost so much.
One of my cousins came up to me at Benny’s services and asked me if I thought our family was cursed. Because she too had lost 2 siblings. My cousin Todd died suddenly in 2009 and I had never met my cousin Scotty. He died before I was born. He was a concept to me, probably much like Benny is to my littles.
After Benny died, my Aunt Carol, my Uncle Walter (my Mom’s other brother) and my cousins came up to talk with us. I was the youngest in the family, so Scotty’s death was never discussed with me. I just remember being floored at how open they were to talking with us. I created new bonds with this family over our lost children. I talked to my cousins at length about what it was like for them losing their brothers. They were so incredibly kind and supportive of us in our grieving. They threw us a lifeline that we so desperately needed at that time.
My Mom’s one sister, my Aunt Dorothy (and her husband Bob) took my Mom’s place in my life without hesitation after she died. She took care of my sister and I the best that she could. She flew us down to Florida to visit. She walked me down the aisle on my wedding day. Once I had children she became the surrogate grandmother. She spoiled the crap out of them! She added their pictures to the ‘grandchild picture wall’ at her house. She came to visit us every chance she got. She read every single one of my blogs and would call me if she thought I was struggling. She was my lifeline to my Mom. She saved me in so many ways.
On December 23, both my Uncle Walter and my Aunt Dorothy fell ill. For 2 weeks it’s been a flurry of family messages. Good days and bad days. On Saturday my Uncle passed and today my Aunt passed. In 2 days we lost the remaining Tacke siblings. And I lost another piece of my Mom. And I am devastated.
Everyone in this picture is gone. All of these incredible people. All of my people. In 2 days our family was shattered. I’m reeling. I’m angry. I have to wonder if my cousin is right. Maybe we are cursed. Or just truly unlucky. We have had to endure tragedy after tragedy. I just want to hug my cousins and hold them close.
AITA Original Post: ‘She said, “Now I know what it felt like for you. Losing a kid is so, so hard.” I’m 26M, my girlfriend got pregnant at fourteen and I was a father at fifteen. He was the best little boy ever and I was in love with him. I had a job and her parents kicked her out so she moved in with mine and by the time I was 19, I was happy and me and her moved into an apartment together.
But when the next year, when he was five years old, he got hit by a truck and passed away. It’s been six years and I still think of him every day.
I told her, maybe a little insensitively, “You didn’t lose a kid.” She looked taken aback and said she did and something about how “fur babies” were kids too. I said losing a kid is nothing like losing a dog and she started getting angry and told me she raised her dog for way longer than my son.
I got mad, and yelled at her to never talk about my son again and then I stormed out.’
The comments section on this is nuts. It made me koo koo bananas reading it, so I had to stop. I know everyone is entitled to their own grief and there are no comparisons. Everyone feels differently and is built differently and is a product of their experiences.
However, if a friend ever said to me that they ‘understood’ how I felt about losing Benny because their dog died, that would be it. And to follow that up with ‘I had my dog longer than you had your son.’ Nope. Absolutely not. Just stop talking.
Sorry if this makes me a horrible person. As I see it, this woman made the comparison when she had the gall to say that she ‘understands’ what it feels like to lose a child. I’m so angry that I can barely type.
Before I start down this self love path of hearts and unicorns (this is sarcasm, because it’s my go to when I’m completely uncomfortable, which I currently am at the prospect of this whole entire idea. Which is why it’s probably a good one), I need to get something off my chest. Because what’s the point of doing this whole thing if I don’t let some of this crap out in the process?
I am someone that has been grieving for more than half of my life and you know what? My ‘give a fuck’ is broken. I can no longer find my ‘give a damn’ and I haven’t used my ‘give a crap’ in awhile either.
I have found myself in situations where my filter is also missing and I feel that it is ok to be brutally honest with people. Like when they suck, I have found it much easier to tell them so because the further that I get into this whole grief thing, the more I realize that I don’t care what people think of me anymore. The worst thing that can happen already has. Someone’s opinion at this point can’t touch me.
My grief goggles are on and all I see is what’s important. Drama and bullshit are out, I don’t have the space for either. If I think you are making bad choices, you will know. Not to be cruel, but because I care and life is too short to make stupid mistakes. It will hand you plenty of stuff for you to deal with on your own.
I don’t have time for things where I don’t feel connected. This whole grief thing is hard enough, if I’m going to give my time and passion to anything, it better be for something positive. I need that good energy to keep myself going. I need to feel like I am all in.
All that being said, I will hold your hand if you’re hurting. I will cry with you. I will sit with you in your grief. My GAF is broken because so much of my focus now goes to the people that count. My energy is now dedicated to the things that count and have meaning.
It’s crazy how grief shapes you. I’ve tried to fight it for a really long time, but it’s time to start dealing with it. So what if my BS tolerance is a little shorter and I’ve learned to say no to things that I don’t love? It’s who I am now.
I was invited to a Facebook group tonight for when my son enters Kindergarten this Fall. My head nearly exploded when I read that he would be graduating high school in 2033. As in, 13 years from now. As in, I will be 53 years old. Even better, I now know that I will be 55 when my youngest graduates.
And to some, that probably isn’t even that old. It isn’t in the grand scheme of things, it’s just not what I planned for me. It’s just that little reminder how off kilter things went.
We had Darcy when we were 28 and Benny at 32. I wanted to be a younger mom. Not because it was this great life plan, but because my mom had me when she was 33. And she died when she was 49. I wanted my kids when I was younger because I wanted them to have as much time as possible with us. I was so constantly concerned about something happening to one of us.
How disgustingly ironic my life became those 7 years ago. I was so worried about something happening to us because I never thought that anything could ever happen to one of my children. None of us do until it happens.
So here I am again, in a bitter twist of fate freaking out at how old we will be come graduation time in 13 years. So much can happen between now and then. So much can change. And it freaks me out. My mother wasn’t at my graduation. Or my wedding. She wasn’t there when her grandbabies were born.
I know that I’m very lucky to have my rainbows. I just need a moment to catch my breath and scream at the Universe. This anger has caught me by surprise because it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way over everything. The need for control is rearing it’s ugly head again and I just need to shake my fists a bit to release this energy building up inside.
I remember thinking (rather naively) as a child that it seemed whatever my parents wanted to happen, would happen. I thought that they somehow ‘willed’ whatever they wanted and the ‘Universe’ took care of them. As a girl of 8 years of age, I thought this was how the world worked. I was priveleged. I felt deserving. Life was good.
My mom died when I was 16. It wasn’t an accident or unexpected, but cancer. She was sick, then there was surgery and chemo and radiation. Then remission. Then months of uncertainty that led to me being in a hospital room seeing the words ‘DNR’ and knowing exactly what they meant. The cancer came back and we were given months.
I was so many things during that time that it’s hard to even write about it all. I was relieved that her suffering would end. I was terriffied of losing her. I was scared of what life without her would be like. I was sad beyond anything I ever imagined possible. I was lost. I did not know what happened. What had we done to deserve this?
When Benny and I were struck by my car, I remember thinking it couldn’t be real. It was like watching something happen to someone else. Saying good bye to him and telling his sister was beyond awful. Imagining our lives without him was heartbreaking. Planning his memorial was surreal. Living the last 5 years without my son have been HARD. Again, what had we done to deserve this?
This past year has been tough. No, that’s false, this past year has been shit. Not losing-a-loved-one-shit, but shit just the same. My patience has been tested time and again and Murphy’s Law seems to befall us more than most. WHY? What did we do to deserve this?
When the bad things pile up it gets harder to see the good things behind them. I know that they are there, but man I am having a hell of time finding them right now. When I go dark and really sit around and think about it, maybe I only deserve bad things. Otherwise, why would they keep happening?
I am in my new house surrounded by all of my stuff again (finally) and this is what I see. I think the road to get here has finally taken it’s toll on me. All of my attempts to brush off the last year as part of ‘the journey’ is crap. I’m tired of making lemonade, please pass the grapes so that I can make some wine instead.
I just want good things to happen. I want to be 8 again and believe that what I ‘will’ will happen. I want to feel worthy of good things again. I probably need to change my way of thinking, but for right now, pity party, table of 1 please.
I’m scrolling through social media, just trying to unwind or kill a couple minutes. I love the pictures of my friends baby, or the cute animal videos. It’s nice to just lose myself for a few minutes amongst the chaos.
And then there it is. A video, a picture someone posted without thinking. It’s a picture of an awful car accident that they took as they were driving by, or a video of a lifeless baby. It’s been shared by countless others and I can’t blame them for sharing it to.
It still makes me cringe. I cannot look. I do not want to view someone else’s worst moment. I have enough vivid memories of my own.
I don’t know why we feel it’s ok to share these images? Have we become that apathetic? I would be horiffied if any one of the people that were there with us in the street whipped out their phone and took pictures or started filming. To my knowledge that didn’t happen, but what if it did? What if it was shared? Would it humanize it a bit more?
I’m sad that we feel so little for others that we feel it is ok to do this. Please think before you post. That is someone’s child, mother, brother, friend.
I don’t really know what to say. I cannot believe that it’s been 10 months. 10 months since I held him. 10 months since I kissed him. 10 months since I breathed in his little boy smell. 10 months since I’ve seen his smile. 10 months since I laughed at his antics. 10 months since I shook my head and secretly smiled when he was misbehaving. 10 months.
I have a lot of anger. I’m not really sure what or who I’m angry at, but I’m angry all the same. I’m angry that we have to live in a world without my son. I’m angry that Darcy doesn’t have a sibling. I’m angry that people have disappointed me. I’m angry that time keeps marching by, yet I’m still stuck here. I’m not sure where ‘here’ is though, some place between the past and the future. I couldn’t really call it the ‘present’ because I don’t always feel like I’m here. I just exist.
My therapist thinks I’m using my anger so that I don’t have to deal. I would agree. Being angry is so much easier though! It’s easier to write people off rather than deal with the fact that they have disappointed you. I enjoy how freeing it feels to have a good rant and let it all out. It keeps people away and leaves me less vulnerable. They can’t hurt me as much from farther away. I want to go back to my bubble, where there was never any judgment, just acceptance and support.
I don’t know where to go from here. The common theme seems to be that this is about everyone else and at some point it has to be about me. I have to own my emotions, no matter how awful they feel. I have to stop turning away from the hurt. I have to try to be me, but not the old me, that person no longer exists.
I think back to where we were a year ago and I have no idea how we got here. Sometimes it feels like I’m living someone else’s life. This wasn’t supposed to happen! We’re not supposed to be here! I want to yell this, but there’s no one to yell at. My wise friend Sue said it best the other day when she said that it’s amazing at how little control we have. Just one little thing can set something in motion that you can’t undo.
So here I am, scared to move forward and scared not to. Terrified of feeling empty. I miss my son.
My disability insurer had decided that I need to be evaluated by their own psychiatrist to continue my benefits. Had that been explained to me, then I would have been able to prepare myself mentally, but that was never said to me. Instead, I returned home from vacation with a required meeting set up for today with their therapist-in Boston.
I called right away to see if I could a) change the appointment time; b) change the appointment location. I was told by my case manager that I was required to provide 5 days notice. I told her that I was out of town and did not receive what they had sent in the mail. I also told her that I do not drive beyond 15-20 miles from my house. Her reply was that it is not their problem that I was on vacation for 3 weeks and that driving was not a requirement of my job, therefore I had to figure a way to get there or lose my benefits.
If you know me well, you can only imagine that I handled that kind of attitude with grace and kindness…uhuh. Suffice it to say, she was trying to see what she could do to change the appointment (‘oh, we’ve already paid the therapist’). When questioned about why they wouldn’t just seek the advice of my therapist that I’ve been seeing for 9 months I was told that it is their right to have their own folks ‘evaluate’ me. So Parker took off the morning to drive me to Boston to see ‘their’ therapist.
When we pulled into our spot on Beacon Street, a gold Chrysler 300M pulled into the spot right behind us. I think my stomach fell to the floor as I fled towards the building. I hadn’t encountered a car that looked like mine yet and the timing couldn’t be worse. Mine was consequently destroyed (as it should be).
So I walked into the therapists office a little in shock. I was already seriously worried about having to talk to a complete stranger about everything, but seeing the 300 really pushed me over the edge. I had not seen my therapist in 3 weeks because we had been on vacation and then she was. Last Saturday I had my first little panic attack since the accident. I was angry. Here I was paying into insurance and they were doing what was in their best interest, not my own. By the time I walked into that office I was a mess. An angry mess, but a mess.
Let me tell you about this ‘evaluation.’ Instead of calling my therapist and asking whatever had triggered this whole ‘evaluation’ in the first place, they will be using the following information to determine if I will continue to receive benefits – a 300+ true/false questionnaire with questions like, ‘do read mechanics magazine,’ or, ‘do you want to kill yourself or anyone else.’ Talk about getting to the point! Then I had to do what the therapist called a cognitive review or something of that nature and read sentences or draw pictures. He then asked 5 questions about depression (in which he was very leading) and reviewed a questionnaire that I had filled out. This is supposed to take the place of meeting with my therapist one on one for 9 months, double sessions, once a week? Are they serious??
He didn’t pry, but asked questions about the accident, which frankly, I don’t really talk about. Imagine telling a complete stranger in the span of 2 hours every minute detail about the worst 7 seconds of your life. It took me months to talk to my therapist about it. My favorite part of it all was when he asked me the 5 depression questions and told me that I scored high. Wow, big freaking shock there you ass! And then he went into the benefits of meds to which I shut him up. It’s just not for me.
I’m angry that my insurance company put me through this. I had a shit day. I had a shit weekend leading up to it. And now I have to wait a week to find the results. I felt forced to sit in that room and answer absurd questions from a stranger. I hope that none of them ever loses a child and have to go through what I did today. Screw you Mutual of Omaha.