On August 30, 2009, my daughter Sheri passed away while giving birth to her second child. She was thirty-three years old and left behind a loving husband and two small children. Her sudden and unexpected death brought grief to those who loved her and who still struggle to accept their loss. I have established this blog with two purposes in mind: to create a space where I can share my experiences in dealing with the death of a loved one and to provide resources for those who find themselves in a similar situation.
I was unprepared for the intensity and duration of grief I felt, and continue to feel, with the death of my daughter. I had experienced grief before following the deaths of my parents. But they were older and suffered health problems when they died (ages 71 and 88). I almost felt relief because their lives seemed complete, and I didn’t want them to suffer anymore.
But Sheri’s death was different. She was young and had everything to live for, including a loving husband, a three-year-old daughter, and a newborn baby girl who needed her. The shock and accompanying grief I felt was almost unbearable.
Furthermore, I had (and continue to have) a feeling that there was something wrong with me because my grief was so intense. I was angry about it and wanted the grief to go away--immediately. This feeling was echoed by one of my children, who posted the following letter on her blog entitled, “The letter I wish I really could send.”
“Dear Death, I hate you. I never want to see your ugly face again. You and your best friend, Grief, can both just go to hell. I am sick of you in my life. Go away.”
It was my ignorance about grief and my attitude that I should “muscle through it” that has made grieving so difficult. The problem with this attitude, according to Meghan O’Rourke [in “Good Grief,” an article on finding a better way to grieve found here] stems from the American fantasy that we should avoid grief. This only compounds the issue: we grieve for our loved one and grieve that we are grieving.