Many people have sent me books about grief since I lost Nash. A note is usually included with the book, explaining how it truly helped the person sending it through the grief process. This is where I’m different. First of all, please do not take offense to this. I have seriously gotten over fifty books on grieving from friends, family, and strangers. I know for a fact they help people because I have had many people, including parents who have lost a child, say how much they have helped them. Do not take this as a hint to not send them to others in need. Everyone grieves differently. I personally do not find them helpful. When my dad died…maybe I would have. Although I was incredibly close to my dad, I was not grieving him like my mother was. I was removed to some extent. My mom was in the thick of it. She lost her companion for life and her day-to-day routine changed forever. She felt his absence more than anyone, and I could tell when I saw her. I had the luxury of being at my own home and sometimes forgetting that he wasn’t still alive. It would hit me when I wanted to call him and I couldn’t. When I wanted to hear his voice and I couldn’t. When I would visit her, it would hit me like a ton of bricks as I walked into my childhood home. It was filled with memories of my dad. Everything in that house had him written all over it. My mom lived in that house…alone. It’s been over ten years since we lost him and I see her still grieving like it happened yesterday. A book might have helped me then; but her, I don’t think so.

My grieving process for Nash is very different then it was for my dad. I hate grief books. I actually laugh and tell Todd that I don’t need a book to tell me I’m in the “I hate the world stage, and that to get through it I need to think positive.” I remember the funeral home director reading us the cause of death and then saying, “You are now going to be in the anger stage.” I just looked at him and thought to myself no shit, but thanks for informing me. The grief of losing a child is life-changing, soul-crushing, and beyond any depths of depression I have ever known. To be fair, I haven’t read one book that I have received, so I can’t say they they wouldn’t help me. However, reading a book takes energy and that is something I do not have at this moment. Lately, I have found myself in what I call the isolation stage. It could be a stage talked about in these books, I don’t know. I could read one and I’m sure it would tell me how I’m feeling and how to cope with it. I, however, would rather write down what I’m feeling and how I’m trying to cope with it myself. That’s what helps me. Throwing it all out there into the great abyss and seeing how I feel afterwards.

The isolation stage is relatively new. It’s hard to explain. When Nash first passed, I never wanted to be left alone. My mind would race and I would think horrible thoughts and I needed someone there to keep my mind busy. Now I want to be alone. Being around people is hard. It takes a lot of effort to fake smiles. To keep up with a conversation. To pretend like you are okay. I remember entering this stage, the exact day even. It was during my niece Jillian’s birthday party. It was a good-sized party filled with people I loved dearly and all I wanted to do was not be there. I watched Jill open her presents and smile. She had that excitement that is almost palpable with every child at their birthday party. As she was opening gifts, I started to zone out thinking of Nash. Remembering the last party I was here for. It was Easter and he was there. He had a bad day that day. It was rare and I hated seeing him so upset. Family members were holding him, trying to let me get something to eat. He cried the whole time. I finally took him back to Jill’s room and laid him down in the bed next to me and snuggled up. I remember this day so clearly and the face he gave me. His cheeks were covered in tears and his face was beet red from crying so hard. As soon as I laid him down next to me, he stopped crying instantly and looked at me and smiled. I just stared at him. His cheeks were still wet and he had his little arm around me and within two minutes he was out cold. I loved being his mommy. Now, as I sit at Jill’s house with all of the same people smiling and opening presents, I think of that day and how Nash will never celebrate one birthday. I won’t help him open gifts. He won’t look at me with big smiling eyes of excitement when he opens the gift he wanted the most. My sister-in-law Caroline could tell I was quiet and was doing her best to talk to me. I was in my own world so much that I can’t even remember our conversation. When Todd and I were on our way home, I looked at him and said, “No more birthday parties, I can’t do them.” He said, “I understand.”

A couple of days later I headed out to the grocery store. As I was pushing my cart around, I was picturing how I used to do this with Nash. His car seat facing me. Him smiling as we raced down the aisles. Now I saw other people and their babies. Kids in baseball uniforms with their moms. I got to the register to check out. I think I had like three things. I couldn’t keep shopping, it was too hard. Of course the lady in front of me in line had her baby with her. I thought to myself…God Shelly next time look at who is ahead of you in line. What were you thinking?! I was in the speedy check out lane and had the slowest cashier in America. She was sweet and asking the lady how old her baby was. The lady said five months. My heart sank. Then she asked, “Your first?” and the lady said, “No, my third.” I was thinking three healthy children…I had one and he is gone. I wanted the cashier to shut up and check the lady out already. She then looked at the lady and said, “Babies are a gift from God, aren’t they? I have four grandchildren and I love them dearly.” The mother said, “Yes they are, I am blessed.” Now it was my turn and I could no longer hold back the tears. The sweet cashier said, “Oh honey are you okay?” I said, “I’m fine.” Then she asked the ten people in line behind me if anyone had a tissue. I cringed with embarrassment. I said, “Really, I’m fine. Thank you.” She said, “Oh no dear I’m going to get you a Kleenex.” She asked the people behind me again and I finally yelled, ” Just check me the f@&* out!!!” Yes, I dropped the f bomb. I could barely believe it. The lady looked at me shocked. The mother that had been in front of me in line looked back at me with her mouth wide open as she pushed her baby out of the grocery store. I scowled at her and thought to myself keep walking lady, your the reason I’m in this mess to begin with. The cashier said sweetly, “I was just trying to help…” I wanted to die. I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. I got in my car called Todd and said, “I’m not doing grocery stores anymore!” Todd laughed and said sarcastically, “Wow, you are just throwing the f bomb out at the grocery store randomly….nice.”

Now when people invite us out, I don’t want to go. One, because I get too upset and two, I’m saving them from my wrath. I truly feel that I’m doing some sort of public service by not going out in public. The problem with this is that family and friends have gotten used to us being around a lot. Now when we don’t come to things, we get calls and texts asking if they did something wrong. Are we mad at them? It’s frustrating. We have taken two steps back and it’s throwing people. What’s even worse is that I don’t have the energy required to explain this all to them. So I just text back, nope, not mad. Some days it feels like our depression is getting worse. In the beginning, we couldn’t wrap our minds around the fact that he was gone. Now it can knock me to my knees in a second. It’s starting to sink in. He is not coming back…life is moving on. People are having parties and grocery shopping. I, on the other hand, am at home trying to think of ways we can eat without ever grocery shopping again. The list of stores I can no longer show my face in again is growing . I think to myself, how many birthday parties can I miss before my nieces and nephews don’t remember me going to any. I’m changing and it’s hard. The one thing I will take from these books is that this is only a stage, and like all the rest, we have another one to look forward to. This one won’t last forever.


12 thoughts on “Isolation

  1. Shelly and Todd,
    I know you’ve been told this a million and now one more time, I am so sorry. I can not imagine how you get through your days.
    I know there are days that I think of you and Nash and I just break down in tears, and I am heartbroken For you. I wish I could take you both in my arms and make things better. Even though I can’t, please know that you’re in my heart and prayers. One more thing, you do Whatever It Takes for You to get through the day. And as you say “F#&k”… everyone else.
    Love you guys.


  2. living with grief is so much harder then just grieving, at home alone in the comfort and safety of your own space.
    It’s so much harder to go out in public and pretend that you are ok , smiling at people when inside you feel like dying.
    I pray that each day you find a way to get through it.


  3. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about you and your family. I have never met you, but your experience has touched me and weighs heavy on my heart.
    Every night before I go to sleep I beg God to give you peace, I pray he reunites you with your son in your dreams. No one will ever say anything to make the pain go away, but just know so many people, everyday, pray for you.


  4. I am a 54 yrs old nurse who lost my 55 yr old brother 3 years ago. It took me a year and a half to clean out my guest house where he was living. We all loved him very much and i still cry and miss him a lot but i am tolerable now.

    You have every right to feel however you want and yell at whomever you want and do whatever you want. Or dont do whatever you dont want to do. I am positive your whole family will understand completely. No one wants you to feel worse than you already do. They are here to love and support you and if that means to leave you alone then that’s what they will do. The most anyone can do for you is pray for strength for you. Enough strength to get out of bed and brush your teeth and feed yourself. No one should expect anything more.

    Thank you for writing about Nash, he was so beautiful. And you are honoring his life by sharing him with those who loved him and those, like me, who never knew him but somehow feel the love you and Todd had for him and are inspired by it. I am praying for strength for you.


  5. I am so sorry for you pain….And it doesn’t take away your’s….
    But I knew your dad and I also lost my brother the same way…But memories keeps me going…
    Funny one of Michael’s my son old football pictures…Had your dad’s name on it… For he took that picture.
    I smiled he was such a joy… And I want to remember that!
    Take that tissue..Look at them Babies for Nash has done so much…. And you need to remember that. You are Nash’s mom…Time will never heal…Why should it..It was a big loss in your life!
    I keep remembering what he lost…My brother.
    But its what we all gained, Having him in our!


  6. I am so sorry. I cannot imagine how hard it is for you because as you said we all grieve differently. However, I can tell you that these stages will be revisited throughout time. At least that has been my experience. They many times creep up out of what seems like nowhere, but for me little things add up throughout a course of time until poof–I cannot take it anymore and I cannot control the sudden downpour of emotion. It sucks, and seems utterly unfair and yes it changes you. My husband says I seem more emotionless and hardened. I don’t know how though when my emotions seem to involve higher levels of intensity. I think it has to do with my heightened sense of just knowing what really matters in life. Everything else is so minuscule. I really could care less what color my friend paints her living room for example. That isn’t a problem, predicament or dilemma in my book anymore. I get annoyed very easily by these “troubles”. They are a waste of time for even a side discussion. On the other hand, I bet most people have a harder time focusing on more complex, deeper issues that I seem to consider most worthy of conversation. And sometimes it is just too exhausting to talk. This post may not have been helpful, but you have helped me a bit as I am finding I still need to talk about and think about my own grief.


  7. Thank you for sharing your feelings with us. You are an amazing person. Nash was soooo lucky to have you and Todd as his parents. He felt so much love. His memory will live on because of you. I think of him often. Continued prayers are being sent to you.


  8. I have been following your blog from the beginning, I am so sorry that you and your husband have to feel this pain that I would wish on no one. I used to work with Jessica a few years back when I still lived in MI, I do not personally know you but feel like I do through your written words. My husband and I have a beautiful angel son Brenden who would have turned 14 last month (full term stillborn, our only child). You truly do become changed while consumed with the all encompassing pain. Through the passing years we relate to it as being the ultimate masters of disguise, smiling to the outside world while inside your heart you still carry the unimaginable raw grief. They say time heals all wounds, I say it just softens the sharp edges a bit. Your words are spot on as you describe the emotions you feel along this journey. I too had a “moment” in Walmart a few months after losing our son, pushed the cart into middle of check out lane and had to leave because of overload of triggers all around me. This is a club that we never asked to be a member of but unfortunately are. Bless you and your husband as you honor your beautiful Nash through your love for him!


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