Generations of Loss

I’m not sure the decade, probably the 1920’s, my great-grandmother had a daughter Suzanne.  She was living in the south and when the baby was a couple of months old she decided to go to Pennsylvania to visit family and introduce the new small.  The baby passed away while on that visit.  She left on vacation with a child and came back to her home and other children without.

In the mid-80’s, my grandmother (the daughter of the above great-grandmother) lost her son, my uncle, to AIDS.  I don’t remember much.  I remember my mom crying on the couch.  And I remember my grandparents being gone for what seemed like a year preceding his death.  They’d moved in with him to care for him before he passed.

After he passed, and as I was growing up, I don’t remember anything in my grandparent’s demeanor or display that would have given away the grief they lived with for the next 25 years.  And it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I even remembered  my grandparents also lost a child.

My other grandmother had a stillborn daughter.  That fact was never even mentioned until I was born.  It was also around this time her mother (another of my great-grandmothers) mentioned she’d lost a son.  Another quiet fact of life.

All of my grandparents were strong in their own unique ways.  None of them ever crumbled under pressure.  None were delicate or wilting flowers.  They all had robust personalities. And they all lived happy and joyful lives with that loss quietly pushed aside.  After a while, it was so far in the background that I’d forgotten these passings weren’t abstract facts of lives I didn’t know.

I’d totally forgotten they’ve all walked this road.

In my joking mind, I ticked off the things that I’d gotten from each of my grandmothers:

Sausage shaped fingers (check), really thick hair (check), strong personality (check), love of national parks/travel (check), dimples (check), losing a child (check).

My late husband’s step-mother lost her 16 year old daughter in the 80’s.   She rarely talked about Stephanie, but she was there in the background.  We always got together for Stephanie’s birthday.  I was 3 years into these birthday gatherings before I even knew what was going on.  Linda had her family around her, but, again, she struggled silently.  She did tell me one time that it was horrible.  I told her that I couldn’t imagine what it would be like, but I didn’t have much more to say.  I couldn’t relate to her silent suffering.

As it turns out “horrible” is kind of a delicate way to frame it.

So, here I am.  Another woman put into this position.  Living through this as they have all done ahead of me.  I’m not alone.  I’m not alone.  I’m in a tradition of loss.

I would have settled for just sausage fingers.

0 stars.  Would not recommend.



One thought on “Generations of Loss

  1. Bridget M Kessler November 4, 2017 / 11201711America/Detroit

    Add us to your generations of lost children. This is your dad’s cousin, Bridget (Scott) Kessler. We also have lost a son at the age of 17. He never graduated from high school, he never went to prom, never had a girl friend, and never had a lot of the firsts that comes with the Senior year in High School and young adulthood. I understand your pain, and have felt what you are feeling. It takes time (you hear this so often), but one never gets over our type of loss. Perhaps this is why there isn’t a label for it. We ache in silence as so many people feel “it has been long enough,” they can never “feel” how we feel (hopefully anyway) or understand our new norm without a child. Children are to bury their parents, not the other way around..That is the norm in life, just not our norm. I continue to understand your pain and pray for your comfort.


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