Thin Ice

I know I’m supposed to be over this, and it’s probably silly that I’m not, but I don’t know how to let it go. I’ll try to explain what it’s like, maybe you will be able to understand or relate.

I feel like I’m always on ice. That I’m standing on a frozen lake going about my day. Most of the time, the ice is thick and supports me and I am fine. There are times when I’m skating and happy and laughing. Some of the time, it’s a bit slippery and I fall or lose my balance.

And then every once in a while, the ice cracks and I fall through in an instant. I can’t breath, it’s ice cold and I’m scared to death. A few seconds later I realize the water is only three feet deep and all I have to do is stand up.

That’s when I get embarrassed and feel ashamed that I’ve acted like a child. There’s no need to cry or be afraid, it’s just a little cold water, stand up, you’re fine Loretta.

Do you ever feel like you are on thin ice?

This is how I still feel about losing my brother. I recently wrote about his death and shared that I had found a newspaper clipping that changed the story I had in my head all of these years. I want answers to questions that have none.

But even before the newspaper article, I’ve been in this cycle of sadness over his death. So how do I get over it? How do I come to peace with it?

My husband suggested I have a pity party of sorts. Or I guess he would more likely call it a wake. The Irish do know how to celebrate the dead, that’s for sure.

I went to my very first Irish wake on my honeymoon. It was amazing. Family, laughter, food and, of course, music. Everyone, young and old, knew all the old songs and sang loud and proud.One of his cousins even broke out in a broom dance.

The wake lasted for hours with plenty of drinking and remembering their loved one. My brother in law even flew in from San Francisco for a long weekend. Who flies to Ireland for a long weekend? But going to a wake is a tradition that runs deep within my husband’s family.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to my brother in law about how my brother died. He told me it was just an everyday banal occurrence. Like stepping off the curb in the city looking one way, and stepping into the street as a bus comes from the other direction. The sort of thing you read about in the newspaper all the time. It touches you briefly until the one you are reading about is someone you know, and love.

It made me feel better, in that moment.

But then, just the other day, out of the blue, with no advanced warning, the ice broke and I feel through…again. My husband was home and wanted to give me a hug but I put my hand up in protest. Just an FYI, don’t hug me when I’m sad, it makes it worse.

After a moment of embarrassment that I was crying over a death that happened over 37 years ago, I stood up and pulled myself out of the ice-cold water.

That’s when my husband suggested having a wake for him.

Maybe I do need to have a celebration for my brother? Or maybe I just need to figure out how put my skates on and keep moving, so I don’t fall through again?

What would you do?

are you still sad over a death that occurred years ago? How do you get over it?

Reader Comments

  1. Mary D.

    My grandmother who lived to be 90, watched as all four of her children passed. One at 6 months, one at 26 yrs, my mother at 52 and another at 67. She lived through the loss of her husband of 50 years, her parents and both of her siblings. Then she slowly lost most of her dear friends. She raised 5 of her six grandchildren and helped with a great grandchild. I cannot imagine living through so much grief and heartache but I never once heard her ask “why me” or “why them?” I knew her faith was strong but it wasn’t until I started living through my own heartbreaks that I realized that it wasn’t just believing there was a better place beyond this cruel world but rather there was someone bigger and stronger than me that carried me when I felt I could no longer go on. For me personally, I am comforted by religious conviction. It may not be for everyone, but I can’t imagine dealing with death without hope that I will see my loved ones again.

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Mary, thank you for sharing that story. My Aunt lost 5 of her 6 children. 4 all at once in a car accident, just a month before my mother died.

      When my first son was born, I cried for her. I knew in that moment what it must have been like for her.

      It does us no good to do the ‘why me’, as it is just part of life.

      I am glad you have your faith to get you through this kind of loss.

  2. Lisa

    When in an emotional situation a few years ago that resulted from the death of my father, I knew there would be questions that I would never learn the answers to. Those questions kept haunting me and wouldn’t leave me alone. So I wrote a story and answered them the way I wish they’d been answered in life. I found the writing of the story to be the grieving release I needed. Of course an Irish wake would have taken a lot less time…

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Lisa that is a great idea!! I never thought of that. I play the scene over and over in my head, trying to figure it out. I am going to write it out…like you did. Thank you!!

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