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The Neverending Battle With Grief

Do I get out of bed to face the morning pain?Why are my feet and my socks soaking? I stepped out of my bed into a huge puddle of hurt and anxiety. As if the room had flooded overnight and I need rubber boots and a life jacket to survive.  Yesterday was so long and negative. Am I ready to do it all over again? 

I throw back my bedsheets, stretch my tired muscles, and wipe the tears from the edge of my eyes. My son is still dead and my world is still flooding each day with emotional tsunamis. Calm, then turmoil, but never stillness or peace.  I pray for them but get no relief.

I paddle my way to the kitchen waiting for the next wave to crash all around me. I didn’t ask to be on these waters; this isn’t the trip I signed up for. 

I try to think of thoughts each day to get me through, but more often than not I am struggling for air as I swallow the surges of grief that pound me in the face. 

A sign flashing on the bank for an upcoming 5k, but the last thing I expected was to see my son’s name scroll across that yellow-bubbled screen. Out of nowhere a slam into my chest as if I was struck by a huge anchor being hurled into the water. It doesn’t hit and stop.  It has to fall all the way through me  and never feels like it hits the bottom. It just gets heavier and heavier, until I am hit with the next one. 

Walking into watch my daughter play volleyball at my son’s high school, I see his friends. He should have been a senior.  Some say hi, some look away and I get punched in the chest again. The questions come on so fast and so quick. It’s like they are always right below the water and waiting to pop up like a submarine in enemy waters. Why is he not standing in that line or sitting in these stands? Why are these kids alive and not mine? Why is her big brother not here to watch her play? What would he look like as a man today? But I have to continue the battle, a battle that is very real. The trauma returns to my upper back as I relive holding him in my arms on that street. I cheer for the girls and yell and the other team. I even make small talk with some of the dads. Inside i am dying, or dead, or just really sad. Mad. Who knows what i am, not even me, not sure how I should act or how this all ends. It just hurts dog paddling through life now instead of fishing or hunting with him in a boat above these stormy waters. 

On the way home, my wife tells a story of girl my son knew. She shared a story with her, one I never have heard. He stayed with her on a bench at a game when everyone left. It was a small gesture but one she treasured and held on to. When all of the friends returned, a song came on he knew and he belted it out singing so loudly for all to hear around him. She said he had such a great voice and he knew it. Slam, another anchor to my water. It felt like in the Marvel movies when Thor reaches up for his hammer and it flys out of nowhere and smacks into his hand with a thunderous boom. Only, I seem to catch them with my whole body. I get physical pain that won’t go away. I question if its grief or a heart attack, as I bring the trash down to the end of the driveway. Not a heart attack, but it is an attack. One that I will have to face again today…in the neverending battle of the bereaved parent. Join me today, find some wadders and rain gear and get ready to be hit with anything.

Kody’s Dad
Kurt Roettjer

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Comments (5)

  • Thank you for this Kody’s Dad ! I needed to hear this because, yesterday, as I was walking around the track at the local Rec Center I was hit with a tsunami not unlike what you described. I lost my beautiful daughter, my only child , in Feb. of 2017. She was 35 and had a whole ,full life ahead of her but an “ultra rare” disease had other plans for her. As I struggled to breathe it hit me that ,for a brief moment, I wanted time to stop. The day was beautiful, the sky blue and clear. The mountains were covered with trees that were just starting to wear their bright Fall colors and I wanted the feeling to last. But the reality is that I don’t want time to stop. I want to move it on so if there really is any hope that I will see her her again after my life is over, I want it sooner rather than later. But, that feeling passed too and I was able to go on with my day. You are not alone. I wish you good health and peace.
    Emily’s Mom

  • Oh, how true. I have been on this water roller coaster for 10 1/2 years since my Only Son, Only Child, Kevin was killed in an automobile accident 6 miles from home. The pain never leaves. He’s the first thing on my heart when my eyes open in the morning, and the last thing on my mind at night. God and only God gives us strength. I hang onto the poem, “Footprints in the Sand”, because I know God has carried me. God bless you and all grieving parents. No parents should have to bury their child!!!!

  • “My son is dead and my world is still flooding with emotional tsunamis!” A perfect description of my life. How do I get through this pain? How do I make my boss see that I feel the same frustrations with myself as I find it difficult to complete my work assignments. It has only been seven months since my husband and I lost our son and our daughter lost her brother in a car accident. We waited for hours before they recovered his body from the arroyo where the car ended after plunging off a canyon road; we never had the chance to say goodbye or tell him how much we loved him. Did he know? I hope so. Now, I struggle with not only the loss of my son but also the possibility of ending my marriage of 22 years as my husband and I struggle every day to find a reason to stay together. My son was 20 years old, and I cannot understand why he was taken from us!

  • My place of peace has always been the beach. Now more so than ever before. My son, Kevin, was always here with me when he was alive. After 36 years and many trials, losing him to cancer was not one of the things that ever crossed any of our minds. Losing him at all was not something we considered. Putting one foot in front of the other feels like walking in the waves some days. It is truly so very hard to do. My son is only gone 5 months now. I don’t know how I will make it through years. it seems like eons already.

  • My heart goes out to all grieving parents. I feel we are a select group, and no one who hasn’t experienced the loss of a child can empathize with the searing relentless pain we feel. My 33 year old son, happily married, professionally successful, loving father of 4 children under age 9, passed away in January of 2018 after battling glioblastoma and leptomeningial disease. I was his primary caregiver as his 18 month battle neared an end, and memories of his suffering haunt me daily. I am thankful for the opportunity to spend his final months by his side, but I now have some painful memories I wish weren’t there. He was a believer, as am I, and I know I will see him again, but my life here is so hard to get through at times. I stay busy helping with his children, but there are some days when all I can do is lie around and weep. I am embarrassed to share my pain with others, thinking I should be better by now. However, from what I’ve read written by others on this site, I am realizing that grieving has no time constraints, and I am not alone in my lingering sadness. May God strengthen all of you.

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