Dating/Sex · Mental Health

Getting Through The Grief: Short Stories of Love and Death

Within the last year and a half, I had an ex boyfriend complete suicide, I broke up with a boyfriend of 3 years, my 7 year old beagle had to be put down, I resigned from a job I had for close to 4 years  and I went through another break up. I am going to tell the first three stories within this blog post. 

Sooo, I think it goes without saying that the last little bit of my life has been kinda challenging. Grief is a weird thing. Death is a weird thing. Sometimes things that are not death, like a breakup, or moving on from a job, feel like a death. I will be honest, I do not have much experience with people dying who are close to me. I have been to a few funerals but mostly funerals of people who were much older. I have been to one funeral of a girl who died at my high school. That is about it. 

Let’s start in chronological order.

First Story

I met him on Twitter when I was pregnant with my daughter. We liked each others tweets and pictures and that was about it. After I had my daughter…I slid in those DMs ready to make this romance WORK. Well, it did work. We dated for three years, mostly long distance, although I did end up moving closer about 4 months in. 

I broke up with my ex boyfriend of three years in September 2017. I ended things because he didn’t want to get married, live together or have any children. He has since changed his mind on the whole children thing but those children will not be with me.  I realize now that I probably shouldn’t have stayed as long as I did knowing that we were on two separate pages..however, we are still friends now.

Breaking up with someone you have been with for several years is really hard. You feel like you lost your best friend. Am I tearing up when I am writing this? YES. What is wrong with me? This is someone I thought would help me continue to raise my daughter forever.  This is someone that my daughter called “DoDo”.  My daughter doesn’t have a Dad in her life, but if she did, this would be hers. This is someone that I moved from Texas to North Carolina for. This is someone that I can say that I truly loved. When you’re with someone for a while, and they don’t want the same things that you do, I think that we hope that they will change their minds. But they don’t. 

Second Story

I dated Nick when I was 15, right after I came home from my 16 month stent in a South Carolina behavior modification “school”. Nick had curly blonde hair, rounded front teeth, a freckle on his forehead and was two years older than me. Nick drove an electric scooter and would pick me up on it. I met Nick through my future child’s dad and my brother. Nick was very sweet. He was gifted musically and a great friend. One time, when my family went on vacation, we pulled up to our house and he popped out of the woods with a bouquet of roses for me. Nick was kicked out of school when I met him, so that year, he technically wasn’t allowed to take me to homecoming  but we snuck him in. And when they found Nick at the dance, we ran into the woods behind the practice football field. My dress was tattered and we had to call his parents to come pick us up. Technically speaking, Nick was the first person I had sex with. Besides this other guy who was in trouble with the police but it was for maybe 45 seconds and I had just turned 13. (Yes, I really do only choose winners). I don’t believe in the “I lost my virginity to him”. I didn’t lose anything. Nick and I chose to have sex together for the first time.

For most of our relationship we spent it smoking weed in his parent’s basement, planning our future and eating at local Italian places. I was 15 and clearly not thinking in the most logical way. Every month,  I was terrified that we were pregnant. I was on birth control but I didn’t take it like I was supposed to (probably from all that weed but let’s not play the blame game). I would pray to God (I am NON religious), laying in his bed, looking up at the ceiling just hoping I wasn’t pregnant. I vividly remember asking God on more than one occasion to not let me be pregnant and that my parent’s would disown me. I probably took more Plan B pills than one should at age 15. Back when you had to call someone you knew who was over the age of 17 to buy you a Plan B at Planned Parenthood, or you’d wait outside and ask someone walking in to get you one.

Nick and I were very different. He really liked jam bands and tie dye clothes. He was extremely smart but the school system really failed him. I don’t think I’d be reaching here if I said that he had major depression. One time, Nick gave me this gold twisty looking ring he had bought at Walmart. I remember, it was $150. He probably worked really hard to save the money to buy this for me. I wore it all the time but I hid it from my parents about what it truly “meant”. Later on, I was eating at  Bojangles on the side of the highway with my dad and the diamond just popped off the ring onto the table where my biscuit was laying. I shoved the diamond in my pocket really quick so he wouldn’t notice. I STILL laugh with my friends about this story. 

This is the only picture I can find of us. This was probably taken on the first cell phone that had a camera lol

Nick and I drifted apart later into our relationship. I think I was trying to rush things and he didn’t have his life figured out yet. I remember breaking up with him over the phone and him crying on the other end. I think it was a few days before Valentine’s Day in like 2008.. We remained distant friends and we hung out once in 2012. It was like old times. I remember his parents asking “Are you all going to get back together” and I laughed. I think I was already talking to my child’s father at this point. 

October 24th,  2017. An old friend from high school reached out to me on Facebook while I was at work. She messaged me this:

I was in shock. I just sat at my desk staring at the wall. I checked on his Facebook to see what people were saying. Initially, nobody knew exactly what happened. We suspected maybe a drug overdose, an accident or suicide by what people were saying. A lot of people talked about mental health on his Facebook and how to raise awareness for those struggling. 

Death is weird.

Death is confusing.

Death is depressing.

Because I hadn’t experienced death of a friend, I felt like I should be able to pick up the phone and call him. I should be able to talk him out of it. I should be able to say something before this happens. But I couldn’t. He was gone and I was sitting in my office in shock and frankly pissed off. Memories started to flood my mind. I was overwhelmed. 

I reach out to his mother and expressed my condolences to her and her family. She invited me to the funeral that was in a few weeks. 

I drove back to Virginia for the funeral and I brought my mom with me.  The funeral was more of a Celebration of Life, but the mood was somber and melancholy. We walked in, signed the guestbook and turned the corner into the room. 

There he was.

His face.

Plastered.

Everywhere. 

Baby pictures, kid pictures, adolescent pictures and more recent pictures. 

Pictures of him laughing, pictures of him playing music, pictures of him looking bored, pictures of him looking sad. 

There must have been hundreds of pictures and a slide show. 

It’s like, when someone dies, all we have left are memories and pictures. 

My eyes flooded with tears. 

I told my mom we could only stay a few minutes because I wouldn’t be able to take it much longer. 

His face looking back at me was hard to look at. I wanted something to grab onto and I wanted to be able to speak to him in the flesh. 

His mom recognized me and my mom and motioned for us to come over. 

I hugged her and his sister and let them know how sorry I am for them. I told them and I am glad to be here to say goodbye to Nick. His mother was in shock. 

She told me that Nick had shot himself and she found him in his room. She told me that she didn’t know he had a gun. 

She told me that he had not been doing well for years and they had tried the best they could to help him. 

I think what is hard about death is that you feel so helpless. I felt like if there was only one conversation I had with him, or if I had maintained our friendship, or if I hadn’t broken up with him on the phone..maybe it would be different. But it wasn’t different and we this is where we are now. I think it is selfish of me to think that somehow I could have changed the trajectory  of his life. Surely, I wouldn’t have been able to but I was grovelling for solutions. 

You know what is funny? Every time I drive by a Bojangles, I think about him. 

Third Story

I picked out Luna from a breeder in Scottsville, Virginia. She was the last puppy left when I arrived. She waddled out of the little outdoor igloo doghouse. She had the biggest and cutest baby dog belly I had ever seen. My boyfriend and I picked her up and took her home with us. She was a veryyy naughty puppy. She chewed everything. Shoes, makeup, toilet paper, clothes, everything! 

This is the day we picked Luna up

As Luna got older, she mellowed out a lot. She would sleep much of the day and play around the house. Her favorite place in the world is my mother’s land. She would love going there and wildly running free with her other dog friends. Luna was very intuitive. Luna knew when I was anxious or upset. She would come sit on me and wouldn’t leave until I told her I was okay. Luna was a very underpaid therapy dog (lol!) 

Luna and I spent my pregnancy just the two of us. We hung out a lot and ate snacks, watched movies, all kinds of stuff. When I brought Penelope home from the hospital, she was very protective. 

Luna had chronic ear infections but nothing that was too awful. In early August 2018, I brought Luna into the vet because I was worried she may have Lyme disease. The vet was actually a specialist in Lyme. She let me know pretty quickly that this was not Lyme. 

She ran a series of tests.

She came back and told me that Luna’s had liver failure. Luna would need a blood transfusion. Luna would probably not survive the surgery. Luna was very sick. 

I told the vet that this was just the symptoms had only been the last couple of weeks and how could she be dying? 

She said that sometimes autoimmune problems are always there and then they flare up and the dogs don’t survive. She said that it likely was an autoimmune problem but without doing an exploratory surgery, they would never know for sure. I couldn’t afford the surgery and the chances of her making it were slim to none. 

The vet talked to me about putting Luna to sleep and what that would look like.

I asked to be in the room. 

And..here is me after it was all over.

Tips for Handling Grief:

  • Sit with it. 
  • Write about it/Express it
  • Talk about it with a professional 

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t pretend to be an expert on mental health or mental issues. I am a regular person going through life picking up things when they work for me. The most helpful thing that I have done in the last few years is to just sit with my anxiety, sadness and grief. Sit with it, get to know it and figure out what would make it better in that moment. Writing about how you feel is invaluable. And like every post I write, I encourage everyone to talk with a therapist. It is so important to seek professional services if you are struggling. 

Grief stays with you. As I wrote this blog, I teared up the entire time. These are all people and pets that I truly loved. It is hard to get over but I think when you realize you shouldn’t be “getting over” it and you come to terms with just “getting through it”, it makes it a lot easier. 

Resources:

Grief Resources

Suicide Hotline

#1 Book I recommend for when a loved one has died Lessons From The Light

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