The Truth About Losing Someone

Truth — You realize that you may be the strongest person you know now. That you held it together against all of your own expectations, even handled it well, considering. You realize that the only event you ever feared has happened, and you knew the moment it happened. You felt it in your throat and gut, felt it pulling at your teeth, scratching your eyes. You went to bed that night and woke up to the news. But you were alright.

Truth — Death is not uncommon. It’s funny because it happens every second of every day. It will happen to all of us. We know this. It is the one real truth that we do know. Why is it such a surprise to us? Why do we think, somewhere deep down, that it isn’t going to happen? Why are we never prepared? Our Families and Presidents and Favorite Bands will all one day die, though they feel so immortal.

Truth — Our parents and loved ones will die, and they might die on their birthdays, in a cold hospital. You will have set your alarm the night before and will turn it off in the morning because it won’t matter anymore. Nothing will matter except that you won’t remember the last conversation you had with them. You won’t save the last text message they sent you. You won’t know how to conjure up enough magic to save them. And they will go. And the world will seem so quiet. Their things will remain on the counter. Their voice on the answering machine.Their clothes in the basket. In ways too dark and sad to be metaphorical, they will never leave, but you will always feel their absence.

Truth — To your surprise, you won’t cry every day. Not nearly as much as you are supposed to. I think Emily Giffin said it best: “The initial stages of grief seem to be the worst. But in some ways, it’s sadder as time goes by. And you consider how much they’ve missed in your life. In the world.” You start to see life as a time line: before and after. With them and without them. You will be reminded, out of the blue, of a random memory of your childhood. A happy memory from “before,” followed by a stab of hurt because they were alive. And everything was just fine.

Truth — Life goes on. It does. It travels over that line, the flat green one on the machine and it keeps on moving. It journeys through your college graduation and your wedding, Christmases, Birthdays, your sister’s sweet sixteen. It’s not so hard anymore in everyday ways, but it hurts worse on a larger scale. You won’t know it at first, but slowly things will start looking different. And I don’t know when you will know what that means. TC mark

Correction, Nov. 02 2011: A quote in this article originally lacked attribution to Emily Giffin. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

image – H Dragon

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  • Visitant

    Fourth paragraph nails it. Could probably stand alone and still own half the articles on this site.

  • Rebecca

    Oh this was such a great read. Something else I’ve experienced during the past three years  is that sometimes I look down and wonder, “Oh my gosh, my mother is dead. How am I even standing right now?” with overwhelming surprise. But we all just keep on keepin’ on.

  • kerry

    This is very poignant, and hit home for me. But I think loss for all of us isn’t just limited to losing someone to death or whatever. Losing lovers, friends, etc – they happen everyday. And I think you just get used to them not being there.

    But one thing’s for sure: knowing they left by choice doesn’t lessen the grief any bit. 

  • Anonymous

    Oof. That fourth paragraph.  The one thing nobody tells you is that you could be sitting at home on an average night, seven years later, and suddenly you’ll be struck with a paralyzing wave of grief thinking “Holy shit.  How have I grown up all this time without her? How the fuck am I going to continue to navigate the world without her?”  

  • macgyver51

    Great read. What I originally came to TC to read for.  “A happy memory from “before,” followed by a stab of hurt because they were alive.” Cut right on in.

  • http://twitter.com/yvonne1503 yvonne

    I like how this makes us a little stronger after losing someone

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    this must be in response to hillary clinton’s mother passing away

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000559015600 Paola Patti

    ‘But in some ways, it’s sadder as time goes by. And you consider how much they’ve missed in your life.’So true, I’ve been doing that so often lately, whether it’s because I’m sad or excited, it always ends up hurting a bit because the person that I want to share it all with isn’t here anymore.

  • Anonymous
  • itsybliss

    so beautiful, so true.

  • Guest

    while this is absolutely beautiful… this line “The initial stages of grief seem to be the worst. But in some ways, it’s
    sadder as time goes by. And you consider how much they’ve missed in
    your life. In the world.” is taken from the novel ‘Something Borrowed’. so let’s give credit where credit is due

    • http://twitter.com/mung_beans Mung Beans

      El Plagiarismo!  

    • Whit Autry

      I think in the newer drafts, it was quoted, but when it was submitted, I chose the original file.  Thanks for pointing this out!  Something Borrowed–Emily Giffin

      • Oliver Miller

        Wait, what? So you had it as a quote, but then… someone else accidentally chose the earlier file, because originally, you forgot that Emily Giffin wrote it and so you forgot to put quotation marks around it? Or something?

      • Whit Autry

        No, like, originally, I wasn’t writing it to submit it to thought catalog.  I was writing it for myself.  I decided to keep editing it over the past few months.  I rewrote it several times, saving them all under different names.  The one I was going to submit said: Truth — To your surprise, you won’t cry every day.  Not even every week.  Not nearly as much
        as you feel like you are supposed to. I think Emily Giffin said it best: “The initial stages of grief seem to be the
        worst. But in some ways, it’s sadder as time goes by. And you consider
        how much they’ve missed in your life. ” That’s really exactly how it is.  You start to see
        life as a time line: before and after. With them and without them. There are the little things that remind you of what has happened to you.  They are the things that will jump up and grab at your throat, they will bring you down, down to the bottom and try and hold you there. You
        will be reminded, out of the blue, of a random memory of your childhood.
        A happy memory from the “before,” followed by a stab of hurt because they
        were alive. And everything was just fine, just fine. 

        It was just a simple mishap in clicking the wrong file.

    • Guest

      I honestly don’t even care.  That’s how much this hit me.  Regardless of who wrote that one line, I felt like this came from their soul.  This is real, I enjoyed this.

    • jessicarobb

      they did give credit, if you read it again.

  • Whit Autry

     6 months ago today, my Dad died.  It was his birthday and the weirdest day of my life.  Thanks for sharing this with me, guys.

    • Kate

      you are talented and eloquent and honest and i want to give you a huge hug as well. thank you for this great article.

  • http://twitter.com/charlottehassen Charlotte Hassen

    This is a wonderfully poignant read. It’s been almost two years since I lost my fiance. Today would have been our seventh anniversary so you can imagine the emotion that washed over me when I found your article waiting in Google Reader early this morning. Some days it’s feels like it’s been a lifetime since I’ve heard his voice, yet there are times when I can hardly believe I’ve lived nearly two years without him by my side. Thank you for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    I miss all my dead loved ones now (uncle, grandma, and grandpas). Life is hard and depressing. What the fuck is life?

  • http://www.twitter.com/mexifrida Frida

    2 years ago, my mom died.
    She had left her cancer untreated and by the time we found out, she had only months to live.
    I still can’t stop the guilt and sudden crying at night.
    I actually don’t think it will ever get better, but I will learn to live with it.
    This article is beautiful.
    As, I read this, my sister passed by with a class project and a picture of my mom on it.
    I know she’s always here.

  • http://twitter.com/amseries AM Santos

    Great, just great. Recite this in mass audience and I’m sure you’ll receive standing ovation.

  • http://peppervirtualassistant.com Nicole Lim

    What a very nice post! This is one of the best articles I have ever read. So heart touching.  All of us, one way or another, will have to deal with losing someone. Most especially if that someone is really special to us. I recently lost my father. It was really hard for me at first but eventually I accepted the fact that he is no longer with us, that I cannot see his face anymore, that I cannot feel his warm & comforting hugs, that I cannot hear his voice. Of course, there are days that I succumb and give in to my longingness for my father. In those days ~ I just cry my heart out, talk to him and pray.  :)

  • jenn

     My mom was killed a year ago next Saturday. This says a lot of what I have felt so far. Thank you.

  • http://parisiennelauren.wordpress.com/ Lauren

    My grandmother’s 85th birthday was the exact same day this was published. She passed away the next morning. Unreal. Probably best I read it now and not then. Thank you.

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