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Moving [forward] with Grief

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In the aftermath of 9/11, I vividly remember the story of a young widow who would pile her small children in her SUV with a mass of dvds and road trip to visit her sister in Colorado. Within a couple years, she moved to the Rockies.

Control freakiness is a very common side effect for those who lose a loved one suddenly (or otherwise). In my case, the tragic death of my youngest son Jake, heightened my control issues.

It’s not a shocking revelation that the ability to consciously make life-changing decisions helps when one feels helpless in the aftermath of traumatic events.

I applied a simple empowering technique while parenting my children when they were toddlers by offering choices of what to wear, what to eat, and where to go on an outing (there were two options, nothing open-ended).

Feeling empowered after experiencing the loss of my son Jake to a car crash (he and some friends whom I did not know went on an unsanctioned road trip in the middle of the night — there are curfew rules for a reason, and note: wear a goddamn seat belt!) has been challenging at best. I was prematurely made an empty-nester. My older two children are now young adults, living independently out of state.

My partner Adam and I are free to make life decisions for us, without considerations of school districts or state lines — so this spring we bought a new house. It’s a bit of a fixer-upper (understatement) with tons of potential.

We’ve been told that a new home is a “nice distraction” from grief. Another person said that they are happy we are moving away from bad memories. I don’t resonate with either of those sentiments. Packing up Jake’s things, including his ashes, has been re-traumatizing on many levels. Regardless of how amazing our new home will be, leaving the home where Jake last lived is hard to do.

No one leaves behind grief when they move — it has to be packed and transported with the rest of your belongings.

Also, I have never heard anyone complain about grief (who’s experiencing it). There may be annoyances at symptoms, such as swollen eyes, clogged sinuses from crying excessively, the necessity of stockpiling tissue like a pandemic hoarder, or the unpredictability of when a wave of grief may strike, but no one complains about the emotional core of this process.

Why? Because grief is love. These are not mutually exclusive. Love told me this. I address this — and more — in my Letter From Love featured on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Substack.

My second year of grief and the 2nd anniversary of Jake’s death were extremely difficult, far worse than I had anticipated.

Now we are moving to a home that Jake has never — nor will — occupy. Jake was, and is, my joy-bringer. While moving some items out of our basement, I was thinking of him and at that moment, I found a winking smiley face.

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This item gets packed in the same box with my grief.



  1. what a beautiful article and what an equally beautiful picture of you and the kids. wishing and Adam only the very best.

  2. You have always been and continue to be awesome in your approach at what life throws at you. 🥰

  3. Not only are you a talented writer, but also write with such heart and insight. Love this piece!

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