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  • Writer's pictureMary Jensen

A painful existence between acceptance and denial

I had lunch this week with a good friend of mine. She and I have something in common. We are part of this miserable club that no one willingly volunteers to join. We are both grieving the sudden, tragic, and profound loss of someone we loved deeply.

We talked about how hard it is to accept that our loved ones are never coming back. It is a strange version of reality that we are now living in. We know they are gone, yet we can’t accept it. We know we will never see them again, yet we look for them everywhere. We know we will never talk to them again, yet we keep calling their phone hoping they will answer.

I told my friend, that at some point, and I don’t know when that is, but at some point we both will have to reconcile these conflicting realities. At some point in the future, we will be able to not feel so sad with our loss and instead feel happy with the time we had with them.

We talked about how it seems that life goes on for the people around us. I know they are grieving too, but my friend and I are stuck in this river of limbo, trying to swim to shore and join everyone but afraid to move, to breath, to reconcile our “what if’s” and “I should have” done this or that and maybe this awful thing would not have happened.

How do we reconcile this? How do we get to the point where we can say their names without breaking down, without feeling down, without falling down? I know I just want to be able to say Erik’s name without tears filling my eyes. I want to be able to talk about Erik without the debilitating weight crashing down on my chest. I want to be able to go in his room and not get stuck in there looking for some indication that this is an awful joke. I want to be able to wash his pile of dirty laundry that still sits in the corner where he left it. This is pure agony.

People tell us that it will get easier in time. Logically thinking, I suppose that is true. But emotionally and physically I feel like a different person, a broken person. I just want to get through this grieving process. I want to feel like myself again. I don’t think that will ever happen though.

I try to find ways to keep myself busy. I have a few projects that I am working on that help keep me occupied. Still Erik consumes my thoughts.

I have been reading about acceptance and loss, talking about it with people who have been through it, and talking to a counselor. All of that helps, but there is no cure for this sorrow. No one says that though. Often I hear that time will heal. How much time, no one can say which is frustrating. How does time heal the part of my heart and my soul that is forever fragmented? How do I heal? How in the world do I accept that Erik is gone?

I wish I had an easy answer to that question. But there is no easy answer. Every morning I get up and think about how I am going to get through day. Every night I cry because I miss him.

Erik Hoxie on his bike doing a jump

The truth right now is I don’t want to accept it. I don’t want to accept that I will never see him start his own auto repair business, or do 360’s on his BMX bike, or meet the love of his life, or get married. I don’t want to accept that he never knew the joy of having children or that I will never be a grandmother. I don’t want to accept that his brother has lost his only sibling. I don’t want to accept that twenty years with Erik is all that we get. It’s not fair. It’s not right. Grieving the death of your child upsets the natural order of life. It’s not supposed to be this way. It sucks! I hate feeling like this!

And there it is… a paradox. I cannot accept he is gone because I don’t want to accept he is gone. I cannot accept he is gone because I am doing everything to keep him alive in my mind.

If I look back to that first week six months ago, I want to say that I am better now than I was then. But honestly, better is not really the right word. I am different than I was then. I am a different person. That one moment in time changed me forever, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I struggle every day to wake up from this nightmare. I want to accept Erik is gone so that I can move forward past all of this sorrow that weighs down my heart. Yet, I don’t want to accept this horrible truth because then, no matter how insane this sounds, all hope is gone that he just might walk in the front door again as if he had simply been away on a long trip and forgot to send a postcard home to let me know where he was.

This is an excruciatingly painful existence between fact and fiction, acceptance and denial.

This is the conflicted world I live in.


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