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When Life Goes on (And You Aren't Ready)

Although I had lost a couple of grandparents, I first noticed this aspect of losing loved ones when my mother died. She passed away too early at the age of 63. She was a picture of health for her age, or so we thought. It was August, 2017. My mom’s family, including her sister and her family, as well as their mother (my grandmother), had flown in from Florida to visit. We had such a great time together. We had a cookout in Mom’s beautiful garden area. Although we enjoyed that time together, looking back, it was even more precious than we realized. What none of us knew, was that an aggressive form of uterine cancer had already spread throughout my mom’s body. Other than feeling tired and having a couple of other minor symptoms, my mother had no reason to believe that there was a serious problem. She wasn’t one to complain. She had made an appointment with her OBGYN doctor, but there were no huge red flags.

We buried her remains three months later. It was a brutal, but short process overall.

After the dust settled and the cards, flowers, and meals stopped, the first thing I noticed was how life goes on. People went back to work. People still put out Christmas lights and exchanged gifts. People went to church. Other people got sick. My friends went skiing. It was hard to see life go on without my mother. Eventually, it did for me, but it was never quite the same. I still miss her dearly.

This process was repeated and greatly intensified when we lost our daughter, Hannah. There are no words to describe this kind of loss. More than a year later, I am still not wanting life to move on. Hannah should have graduated from high school the weekend after she passed. Seeing other kids graduate and go off to college is gut-wrenching. Of course, I am happy for nieces and nephews, whom I love, when they celebrate major life accomplishments. But every time I get an announcement in the mail from someone, I feel sadness for our loss. Other than reading, writing, and exercise, there is very little that I have wanted to do this past year.

Everywhere I go and everything I see is felt deeply alongside thoughts of Hannah. We have traveled since our loss. I cried because I knew how much Hannah would have enjoyed those trips. Bob Dylan had a new song released. I cried because Hannah wasn’t here to listen to it with me. We had a cookout recently that included family and friends. I was thinking about Hannah almost the whole time. I have a young fiddle student that reminds me of Hannah. There is a part of me that just doesn’t want life to go on, but it will with or without any of us.

I am sure that I am not alone with this experience. Feel free to share. Scroll to the bottom to comment.

- Ryan

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Kellie Green Snuffer
Kellie Green Snuffer

In reflecting on the hurt, I think the pain of losing someone so intertwined with our hearts, while brutal, tends to impact our senses so strongly that we grow in new and unexpected ways. I won’t say I have welcomed this growth, yet it’s there nonetheless. It’s as if each sense is heightened and we are more aware of not only sights, tastes, smells, but we are more in tune with the feelings of others.

The process is often bitterly painful, difficult, and gut-wrenchingly awful, and yet it gives us new eyes to see much of what many folks often miss. Perhaps this is because our emotions are so raw. I seem to feel more inclined to more closely listen…

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