‘It’s like throwing everything in the backseat, then slamming on the brakes so it all comes flying forward.’: Woman candidly shares journey grieving multiple loved ones

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Disclaimer: This story details drug use and miscarriage and may be triggering to some.

Loss. Perpetual loss. Where you always have your eyes open and guard up because you don’t want to risk another brutal heartbreak. I assume this is like people who connect their wallets to a chain. Hold on to something dear, safeguard it.

But what do you do when it’s your heart you’re trying to guard? And it’s attached to so many things. Your kids, dog, husband, siblings, job, money, travel, your own parents… I’ll tell you, the navigation is not straightforward. It’s confusing, traumatizing, manic, detached, there’s addictions, fear…so much fear.

My life used to be carefree, like most children, I presume. Surrounded by half a dozen aunts and uncles, dozens of cousins…everyday. Our house in Kodiak, Alaska had panoramic windows that overlooked fishing boats, bald eagles, and foggy weather. It was home. It still feels like home, even though that life got flipped on its head overnight.

Courtesy of Nicky Bright
dad with his kids
Courtesy of Nicky Bright

I was 12 when my mom died. My youngest sibling was a baby, just learning how to walk. It was Easter and she was taken by a brain aneurysm. Gone. At 35. No explanation. I’ve successfully blocked it out of my mind for 20+ years. Attempting to protect that heart.

My mother’s sudden death was life changing. I changed. Drugs and alcohol helped numb the pain. Binging and purging on food helped. It all helped occupy my mind, avoid reality, and cope. It worked until it didn’t – 15 years of blotting it out. I guess I technically did avoid it, until life and loss continued.

It’s like throwing everything in the back seat of the car. Then you slam on the brakes and everything comes flying forward. That’s what sobering up was like, you can’t hide any longer.

Because then there’s more loss, and if you haven’t dealt with the first, how can you healthily move through the next? Grief compounded upon grief. Four miscarriages. Six aunts dying. All of my grandparents.

family portrait
Courtesy of Nicky Bright

Then my dad. Oh, my dad. That one is still raw. He was one of those stuck in his ways people. You knew where he’d park, what he’d eat, how he walked, what he’d say, how he’d answer the phone. A pattern I came to rely upon, especially after losing so many others. He was my predictable. It’s bizarre to navigate this world without him. My husband said I’ve changed since he died. My faith has changed. I’m more weary and guarded. How do I soften?

woman smiling at the camera
Courtesy of Nicky Bright

It’s hard to tell what’s really going on with compounded grief. Who am I mourning exactly? It’s like finding the shortest piece of grass on the field. It’s impossible. The tears all feel like they’re for my dad, but I know they’re not. That dark and stormy grief cloud is larger than just him, but he’s the face.

How do you muddle through? I don’t know which loss to address. I just know I get really sad. Unattached. Cold. Angry. Resentful. Yelling at the people I love for not being perfect. Maybe because I want to be perfect. I want to be healed, but I’m not sure how. I have done the therapy, the treatment, the meds.

The best I can do is be present. Play with my kids. Say I’m sorry and mean it – they didn’t cause this. I have to work on loving my family unconditionally, when my self-love is conditional. I don’t want to beat myself up anymore. I want to be mad at the right things.. Be sad intentionally. Be hurt, but move through it with love and patience toward myself and others. That is my best.”

woman on a tire swing with her kids
Courtesy of Nicky Bright
Courtesy of Nicky Bright

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Nicky Bright from Port Orchard, Wa. Follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story hereand be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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