Invisible Shadows

Silas’s invisible shadow leaves markers of emotion on the milestones of Zephyr’s life.  From birth to smile to first steps to sentences, I revel in Zeph’s vibrant growth overflowing with life, yet I feel the silent echo of our lost son’s nonexistent experiences reverberating through the house, Lu’s eyes, my soul.

Everyone sees Zeph as an only child.  That’s what he is in every obvious way.  But I cannot help wondering how different his life and personality would have been if Silas were here as his older brother.  That it is impossible to fathom how that fundamental variation would have transformed all of our lives is slightly maddening.  I try to picture it and vanish down the vortex of endless possibilities.

I dread the moment Zephyr realizes or is told about the friend and brother he should have had. That sadness is a shadow on my every gesture and thought, and I hate that he will learn, someday, what he doesn’t have. At night as I lay in bed, sometimes the pipes start to knock as they heat up and warm the house.  First it’s soft and light, then louder and more solid.  The knocks are intermittent but consistent and when they wake me up in the middle of the night and I lay there listening, anticipating, waiting for each next knock, I can’t help but think about the soft gray ashes in the drawer next to my bed, next to my head that are all that is left of Silas’s corporeal body and although I don’t believe in ghosts or hauntings or maybe even the afterlife at all, I can’t help but hear his shadow knocking on my soul, knocking softly every day and night, knocking softly on my heart.

I see his fleet shadow flying around the corner when I walk with Zeph down the block.  Silas is already ahead, already gone, but I’ve got to keep this little guy’s hand in mine as we amble along, going slow like only a two year old can do.

Do you have moments when you feel your lost child closely?  Is it a sound or a place or state of mind?  If you were fortunate enough to have children after your lost child, what was it like to explain to them what happened?  How do you deal with the what-ifs & should-have-beens?

inside the broken

There are things which broke on that day which will never be repaired.

My ability to give a toss, for one thing. I walked out of the hospital wearing pyjamas, clutching a yoghurt. Less than an hour after watching my 11 day old son die, I left the building having forgotten to dress but feeling it was important to not waste the money spent on a breakfast yoghurt that my throat had been too constricted to eat.

A million times I have reconstructed that morning, imagined that I screamed and howled and refused to be parted from him, imagined myself cradling him - illegally outside a car seat - on the journey home. Imagined his breathless body in our home, loved by us all, for a few hours. Just a few. Long enough for all of us to hold him.

A piece of me broke when I laid the body of my child upon the bed, turned my back, walked away, left him forever. I went quietly. I walked with measured steps, climbed inside my car, composed myself for breaking the news at home.

I stared at the car in front of us, proclaiming in a jolly yellow sign "baby on board" from the back window.

I didn't cry, or snarl, or instruct my husband to ram their smug, unknowing selves off the road with their sneering, crowing, baby sign.

I don't miss the drama queen, nor the woman who put her own needs and wants first and had a baby to suit herself. She broke. She is long gone.

The mother who arrived labouring and optimistic was not the one who walked out empty armed and brokenhearted. I wonder at what became of her on those haunted corridor days, the long nights hovering above a SCBU crib. I wonder at the mother who left, grief already put to one side, able to turn her back to a beloved but dead son and focus on the living.

I would not have believed that I had that in me. I would not have believed that my soft soul, so often such a shaken and shifting thing, would have hardened, frozen, stiffened and done the deed.

I am not sure if I want to be the mother who walked away. It does not feel honourable nor does the walking illustrate the love, or the desire to stay forever, suck him inside of me, curl up upon that bed with him inside my arms and keep him warm with my warmth until we both grew cold.

But the one who arrived home. Broken, yes, but strong. So very, very much stronger than anyone believed. Least of all me.

There are things that broke inside of me that day; faith, trust, patience and tolerance. Energy for the small worries, some measure of mercy for human foibles are long gone. I do not wish to be troubled by the minutiae of petty irritations. I do not suffer them gladly.

What was left, when all that cracked and fell away, was new, pressured hardened, solid, changed.

I survived.

My son died, in my arms, under my gaze.

But I survived. I changed, changed deeply to my core, but I have survived. Sometimes, I rather resent that it is possible to do so.

Can you identify parts of your personality that have changed since the loss of your child? Are there changes you welcome in some way or do you resent them utterly? People talk about 'becoming a better person' as an aspiration after experiencing loss; is it possible for that to happen? Is it damaging to even try? In what ways has grief been a journey for your 'self', your character and how do you feel about it if it has?



the scbu legacy

There is a boy on my lap, ten months old, and he's been gasping for breath all evening and the antibiotics that should be helping are making a red rash creep up his cheeks. It's getting harder to breathe now and I'm looking at him and I know what the doctor - kind, understanding - is going to say next.

"I think we need to admit him."

I'm all on my own with a million screaming voices in my head and I don't know how to help him - or me - and a tear splashes down on his face.

I'm always raining tears on my boys.

And then she says:

"He will be okay."

Beat. Follows Beat. Follows Beat.

I look up and I can feel the look that I give her.

"I've been told that before."


Don't tell me this will be okay. You know nothing. You people can't save my boys. I don't believe you.


There is a boy on his lap, ten days old, and he's arching and gasping and the room has stilled to a horror struck silence. He's been stable - doing better -  but suddenly the world has dissolved and a hiccuping gulp for air has become a desperate grapple for life and he's suddenly all ours, our responsibility and I can see that he's dying and it's going to be unbearable, painful, the cruelest and worst possible ending.

The antibiotics that should be saving him are doing nothing and no one knows why.

I know what she's going to say next. Kind, understanding.

"I think it's time to make a decision. If you wait, there won't be a decision to make."

Beep. Follows Beep. Follows Beep.

Damn monitors. Damn wires. Damn tubes that came between us and didn't save him. I don't know what to do to help him. Or me.

And then I do.

I look up and I can feel the look that I give her.

"Do it. One last chance. Only one. Give him till tomorrow to try to live."

Don't tell me this will be okay. I've been telling you for ten days that this won't be okay. And you can't save him. You don't know why, but you can't save him.

And I'm all alone, all night, with a boy who said no to his one last chance and who chose to give up on breathing and chose to reject the help that all the medics who wanted to save him offered and who left me, with a million voices screaming in my head, with the knowledge that I let him go because that was all the mothering I could give him. That was all the kindness I could offer. That was for the best, for him, for all of us.


We don't talk about the SCBU days. We don't talk about how the rhythmic beep of a monitor still sends us into silent meltdown. We don't talk about how each illness, erroneous blood test, each new health problem for our girls and rainbow boy forces us to silently confront the reality that our child died and when we needed them, the doctors couldn't save him. Didn't know. Can do so many brilliant things but couldn't save a little boy who lacked the fight to live. We don't talk about how one doctor said he would do well, that 24 hours later we crashed as another spelt out what 'do well' might mean for a boy who didn't want to suck. We don't talk about the peak as he opened his eyes and began to respond or the pit of despair that hauled us down as something inexplicable tore him away from us again. When our subsequent child is - repeatedly - admitted to hospital with breathing problems (and lives, I grant you) I go alone to care for him. Alone beats the companionship in terror of the SCBU parent bedside journey.

Just waiting for the balloon to go up. Just waiting for the hammer to fall.

Three years on, we do not let ourselves look at Freddie's 11 days and acknowledge how easily it could all happen again. And that means we do not look at his life at all.


They couldn't save him. They didn't know. And so how can we ever believe  in "it will be okay" ever again?

How has the loss of your child changed your feelings to illness since? How has it altered your parenting to subsequent or other children? Are you stronger or weaker in crisis since? Do you see death lurking around every corner or do you thumb your nose at it? And if you experienced a SCBU (NICU) journey, what is it's legacy in your life since?

After The Bear Hunt

The discussion boards for Glow in the Woods are truly that warm, welcoming campfire to so many of those who find us in the darkest of journeys. Throughout Glow's five years, the boards have grown tremendously. We are so grateful to how graciously our community continues to abide, listen, and support one another. Through our growth and feedback from our community, we felt it was time to expand and add another board--Parenting after Loss. Whether you were parenting children before your loss, or parenting a child born subsequently, Glow felt it was time to create a space to talk about the specific issues around parenting and grief.  We hope this space will be welcoming to those in all stages of grief and parenting. As always, if you have any suggestions or feedback on the community section of Glow in the Woods (the general board or the ttc/pregnancy/birth after loss board or our new board parenting after loss), please contact us here. We'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Today, we are thrilled to introduce Merry of Patches of Puddles as our new Board Moderator and a regular contributor. Merry's support and love permeates all the nooks and crannies of this community.  Merry's fifth child Freddie lived for eleven days in SCBU before dying of pneumonia. She is parenting Freddie's little brother and four older sisters in the UK. We are so lucky to have her keen eye, compassionate heart, and eloquent voice among ours. --Angie


“You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it…Oh no, you have to go through it.”

So say the words of a rhyme my children sing; lines that have played in my head since I stepped upon this grief path. The Bear Hunt; the long, difficult, fearsome journey.

I tried to find a way to scramble over grief, glide upon its surface and slither down over the other side of a glass dome that reached skyward, holding my baby and my pain inside it. I pledged to write him out of my mind and memory, believing I could escape the trite truisms of the steps of grief. With no intention of reaching acceptance, I relished denial. Busy, stretched beyond measure by the damaged children surviving Freddie alongside me, I pushed my tears to the quietest moments, the dead of night, the bathroom, lonely car journeys of the parent taxi trail. In the daylight, fear and pain on the faces of his sisters when I cried was too awful to behold. Keep it together, put on a brave smile, hold them when they cried. Just keep swimming. Just keep gliding.

Just keep scrabbling desperately to hold on to the life that had been ours, when we could count our children without confusion. When we could hold them all in our arms. When there was no space on the sofa, no space in our hearts, no empty spot between us all.

And then came despair. Choking, horrifying, utterly consuming and black as night and twice as bitter, despair. And I tried to go under it. I told the world and all her wives of my lost son, just to see the shock, see the horror, see the recoil from all the checkout women and frightened postmen who wished the crazy lady away. Begone, with your foul, mud soaked, horrifying grief. Get over it. Move on. Be on your way with your inappropriate love for a boy made of ashes. His loss rose up between us all, the husband and girls who went on and relearned a smile and the mother, woman, wife and now barren and broken part-human who tunnelled through days and wondered how to make another life. Month after month, I sunk beneath blood and anger and disbelief as a never birthday loomed and a life mourning a baby stretched impossibly - broken - in front of me.

You can’t go over it.

You can’t go under it.

Oh, no… you have to go through it.

Through the mud. Through the tears. Through the river that takes the feet from under you. Through the grass that sways above your head, disorientating, blocking the view, all you can see. And all the time dragging my broken children along with me, committed to the path I had chosen - the hunt I had wanted - which was punishing them so utterly.

The work and effort of grief, a journey, a slog, all to find a big black cave and a big black bear and turn tail and run for home, retracing steps, trying to find the place where once you were, trying to keep my other children safe as they bumped and scurried alongside.

And then… and then… lying on the bed, chest heaving from the chase, bones exhausted, tears all cried out and heart hammering. A memory of horror and fear and the jawed yaw of utter destruction, of unimaginable pain, right there, in your mind’s eye.

Slipping… sliding away.

A memory.

He was here. One of us. I do remember him. We did love him. I do love him. He was a person and he is – always - my boy. He was also a journey, one that broke me on every step and which brought me home, but not to the same place.

And, having gone through it, I tell you a truth now. Life goes on. Not the same life. Not the same person. Not scarred exactly but somewhat brutally reshaped.

The journey, now part of me, has the air of a badge of honour to it. I would not be without it. Here, in the unasked for afterglow of grief, I find myself, us, a family, with every decision we make infinitesimally altered by the knowledge that one of us can die.

The lens is different. Everything I do is tinted by the grief lens. My girls go out and I hope to see them safely back. The telephone rings and I hope to not hear of death. A baby is born and my head reels that people ask for weight and gender, not first breath safely taken. My child, admitted to hospital, makes it safely home. I am stunned by survival. The car breaks down, expensively. Nobody died. Our livelihood is precarious. Nobody died. The toddler ballpoint pens the expensive sofa. It’s just a thing. Nobody died.

This is my story, 3 years on. Mine is a journey complicated by my travelling companions; the living children I brought with me, guilt that they know grief, regret that they see fear in my face when illness strikes, sadness that they fumble answers to simple questions about brothers and sisters. Nothing has been the same for them since Freddie died. They do not have the same mother, or father, or family. Everything is a fight to weigh the knowledge of loss against the right to independence. They trod the terror of the subsequent baby path with us and their life is changed because of that.  And his life, the precious princeling who came after, is a kaleidoscope of the fragments of loss, love, longing and fear and joy and wonder that he has as yet no knowledge of and cannot change.

I am not the mother I was. I am twice the mother and half the mother, a patchwork of unwanted experience. I am surviving the hunt and the fear, but I will never be home, not quite.


Where are you on your grief journey? Have you tried to move under it? Over it? Tell us what it is like to move through it.

a hard talk

It is my distinct honor to  welcome our newest regular contributor Brianna from  Daily Amos.  In 2010, her first son George was diagnosed with heart failure caused by supraventricular tachycardia at 24 weeks gestation. Over the next four weeks, the doctors tried to slow his heart rate down with medication. After stopping treatment, Brianna developed Mirror Syndrome and had to have an emergency c-section. George died shortly after birth. Brianna brings her wisdom and sharp insights to Glow in the Woods. We are grateful to have her. --Angie

When I was a kid one of my favorite books was Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.  I often imagined myself as Max (and what child who has ever read that book has not done that same exact thing) throwing off the shackles of parental subjugation and escaping to a place where I was beholden only to myself.  To this day I still love that book and get a thrill every time my nearly eighteen-month-old daughter asks me to read it to her and yells, “Max!” as we flip through the pages.  There is something pure and honest in the way Sendak writes about childhood that is completely unique to him, which is probably why his books are beloved by so many people.  Maurice Sendak died last year at age eighty-three having written and/or illustrated hundreds of pieces.  Given the subject matter of what he wrote about I was surprised to discover that he never had any particular fondness for childhood and was more than a little preoccupied with his own death.

During one interview Sendak explains what he believes to be at the root of his morbid obsession.  He tells a story of being a small child, about the age of four, and seeing on the front page of a newspaper a photograph of the remains of “The Lindbergh Baby,” the twenty-month-old child of the famous Charles and Anne Lindbergh who was killed during a kidnapping for ransom attempt.  Sendak goes on to recount how profoundly the image terrified him and that his parents never really adequately addressed his distress.  His parents, in fact, denied that such a photograph existed and insisted that little Maurice must have fabricated the entire thing.  It wasn’t until many years later, long after Sendak’s obsession with the Lindbergh baby had matured and developed into the fixation he had about his own death, did he actually get confirmation that the photograph he claimed to see on the newspaper did actually exist.

I don't know why his parents chose to ignore their son’s obvious difficulty processing what he saw.  Maybe they really believed their four-year-old son had lied about the photograph.  Perhaps they thought convincing him that the entire incident never happened was the best course of action.  I assume they were doing what most decent parents do when faced with uncomfortable situations like these; the best they can.  But whatever the reason behind their decision, the result, at least in Maurice Sendak's mind, was that the little boy grew up to be fixated on his own death.

Watching Sendak recount what a traumatic experience he had with his first encounter with death made me think about the first time I learned about the concept myself.  It was when one of our cats died and I must have been six at the time, maybe seven.  She was a tortoiseshell beauty we called Puzzles, name owed to the interlocking swatches of orange and black fur on her back.  She had been sick and my parents sent us down the street to play at a neighbor’s house while they took her to the vet.  At the time I was not aware that they were taking her there to be euthanized.  I assumed they were taking her to the doctor’s office to get medicine in the same way they did when my sister or I was sick.  They returned later that afternoon, driving on our street past where we were playing outside.  I knew something was wrong when I saw my dad in the passenger seat and that my mother was driving, an unlikely sight in our family.  My sister, four years my senior, must have also known something was wrong as I don’t remember her saying anything to me the entire walk back to the house.  When we arrived we found my dad, with a grim look on his face, along side my mother, waiting for us at the front door.  “Puzzles was too sick to get better,” they told us, and that they “had to help her so that she would no longer be in pain.”  They explained that they had her put to sleep, that she was not going to wake up, and what exactly all that meant.  There might have been talk about heaven and what happens after death but I honestly don’t remember what was said mainly because I don’t think that part of conversation was as jarring as the idea of actual death. 

They brought Puzzle’s body back from the vet’s office so that we could say goodbye by having a funeral for her.  I realized that was why my father had been sitting as a passenger instead of his usual place in the captain’s seat: he had been holding on his lap the body of our much-loved cat, wrapped in plastic and placed in a cardboard box.  Later that day my dad dug a hole in the corner of the backyard under a tree where we said our goodbyes.  It was about as gentle an introductory experience as a child can have to death.  I don’t look back on that memory with any fear or resentment but rather with an appreciation to my parents for making the hard choice to talk to us frankly about such a difficult subject.

In an ideal world the introduction I had to the concept of mortality and death is the one a child should get about such a profound subject.  The introduction should not happen by being faced with a black and white photo of a stranger’s murdered child, or by the death of a sibling, or by watching mama come home from the hospital without baby brother or sister… Sadly though we don’t live in an ideal world.   We live in a crazy, often beautiful but just as often fucked-up, world.   Sometimes children do get murdered and sometimes babies do die.  Some of us do not get to decide when and how our children learn about death…for some of us circumstance chooses for us.

Since George died Leif and I have had frequent conversations about how and when we are going to tell his sister about him and why he died.  I guess in a way we are the luckier ones in the spectrum of unlucky baby loss. He was our first child and so we have the luxury of deciding when our daughter learns that she had a brother. Still I can imagine that no matter how or when we do it I will always wonder if we irrevocably damaged in some way her impressionable young mind.  When she is fifteen and painting her nails black, listening to her generation’s equivalent of The Smiths, I’ll be certain that it is a result of my failure as her mother to adequately address her brother’s death.   When she expresses any hint of anxiety while being pregnant with my grandchild, I will have no doubt that it is because she is convinced that her baby is going to die just like her mother’s did.   I don’t think it is possible to escape those kinds of doubts or, if there is, I’m still trying to figure out a way to it.

The truth is that I am not afraid of telling her about death and mortality, per se.  What does frighten me about explaining to her that her older brother died is the part where I have to expose her to ideas like sometimes bad things happen to good people and that there are not always good reasons for why terrible things happen in life.  I worry about having to explain to her at some point that occasionally even our best efforts are not rewarded with happy endings.  I don’t know how or when as a parent you tell your child these things as it seems to me it must at least partially steal away some innocence, and there is such precious little time they get to keep that as it is.   What I do know for certain is that I will tell her about her brother George and that he died even though we wanted him so badly to stay.  I will do my best to give her honest answers when she asks questions about him, as I know that she inevitably will.  I will make sure she knows that no matter how scary this world is that I love her and her brother so very, very much.  Maybe that is all she needs and the rest will work itself out.  


What are your thoughts on discussing the topic of death with children?  Have you had to explain the death of your baby to his or her sibling?  How did you do it?   If you haven’t yet had to address the topic, how will you or how would you do it?  Or maybe you won’t address it.  Tell me why.  What do you wish your parents had told you about death?


photo by George L. Smyth


Emancipation from the bondage of the soil is no freedom for a tree.
-- Rabindranath Tagore

I am roots and he is my soil. He nourishes me. If you pull me out of this marriage, I would choke on the dryness of his absence, writhe in the shadow of his turned head. And when he walked away, my roots would become little withered limbs curled from the sun.

I mourn my marriage some days. I mourn it right alongside my daughter. I mourn the marriage we should have if it weren't all knotted around grief and dead baby. I mourn the lovers we could have been without Grief as our demanding mistress, calling obsessively at all hours without saying anything into the phone, but simply breathing.

I am still here. That breath wordlessly says. I will still fuck you.

No matter how fast we hang up that phone, the ringing echoes around our marriage. A few months ago, I thought about this look my husband used to give me before daughter-death spirited our smiles away. Just pure love--all googly eyed and out of his right mind, his mouth in a kind of large wide grin that makes me feel like the only girl in the whole world. That smile is home. I wept those months ago, head in my hands, shoulders heaving. It took hold of me suddenly like a tempest and I cried for just my marriage, not for Lucy or any of the other things that come with our daughter's death, but for this one huge loss of a marriage without grief. It had been so long since I had seen him look at me this way. I felt suddenly bereft without the look. I felt suddenly uprooted.

Our marriage has never been hysterical or dramatic. There are no epic fights. There are no thrown dishes. No nasty words to stew on for days. There are no resentments built in the walls between us. We just forget some nights to say 'I love you' or truthfully, even "Good night." And months later, after having our third child, I looked at him unsure if I even really knew what he had been going through for the last six months. Our grief changed subtly, almost imperceptibly, and our reactions to it changed too. It wasn’t the constant meltdowns of the early months. It settled into a general malaise, a suffocating ennui and a survivable, yet altogether uninteresting melancholy.

I have read how men and women grieve differently, and I used to think that about us. I used to chalk our silence and awkwardness up to sweeping gender differences. But I have come to realize that it is the exact opposite of that--we grieve in much the same way. Our similarities prevent us from being the first to cross the gulf that separated us in grief. We are both proud, capable introverts trying to privately grieve our loss in a room full of the other person. We went into our corners and licked our wounds, and nodded as we passed each other on the way, unable or unwilling to articulate the obvious. My husband's father died three weeks before our daughter. So, he mourned his father, and then his daughter, and some days he would cry unsure of who exactly he was grieving. He was left in a month's time a fatherless father in an undaughtered land.

Marriages are a long negotiation in needs and wants. When your best friend needs you, it most often is not at a time when you are in need too. Until you are. Until both of you lose a child at the same time. Early in our grief, we were rocks for the other. Somehow balancing the rawness and the strength. We clung to each other. Sometimes being the trunk to lean upon, arms outstretched for shade, providing the strength, and other times taking it. But we often would say nothing, except an "I know." Finally we let go of each other, and walked backwards, staring at each other in silent accusation, "Why do you need to need me right now? I am reading something interesting on the internet."

My best friend's daughter died. In me. And my best friend's father died without me being able to give him the focused sympathy and love he deserved. I sometimes feel that I failed him. He doesn't begrudge me. His best friend's daughter died too, sometimes he feels he failed me as well.

Grief does such a number on all those little things that make a marriage great. Giddiness, laughter, sex, lightness, playfulness.  Rather than husband and wife, we became World Wrestling Federation partners, tag teaming each other out of parenting when one of us got too tired or caught up in grief. Impatience would echo in our house, and the other would come in the room, slap hands and take over. Parenting and discipline takes so much psychology, higher brain power, and patience some days, especially with a toddler mostly oblivious to Death's visit, I sometimes did not feel up to the task. Other days, he did not. All our emotional energy was spent keeping grief from engulfing our parenting.

Even though I often feel weak and sad, I am sure I would not be nearly as strong and happy as I am if he wasn't standing beside me. Even in our most stark distant times, I felt more alive in his soil--our roots coiling together making one important tree. We laugh a great deal in our home, which feels like rain after the dry season.  He can always draw a long chuckle out of me with his irreverence and constant flirting. Other days, he will stop and listen intently and mirror my indignation at life, thoughtless comments, other people and mortality. That is enough for me. Probably the uncoolest thing I can say about my husband is that I miss him when he goes to work.

At eighteen months from our daughter's death, when we sat together and quantified our grief and our marriage. I had read Tash's piece on marriage. I felt suddenly aware that our distance wasn't okay. And so, we sat together and expressed our fears. We ranked our marriage, at that time, squarely at fair to middling. We made the decision to go back to counseling to find the lighter side of our marriage buried in the ash of grief and death. It wasn't easy making that first call, but it was easy walking in there. We dropped our children off at my sister's house. We flirted in the waiting room, and laughed about our past and who we have become. We held hands and told our story, realizing as we talked that we have problems very similar to most married people with or without dead children. The mere act of seeking help made us feel okay, like trying was all we really needed. We asked the therapist if it would be okay to bring a bottle of wine, stinky cheese and a crusty loaf of bread to our sessions. Everything suddenly felt sexy, even in the least sexy of places.

Sometimes it surprises me that we have only been married for four years and together for five. I have jeans older than our marriage. We have been through the birth of three children and the death of a two grandparents, one parent and one child. We bought a house and traveled to a few third world countries. We have endured accidents, sickness, house renovation, fear, surgeries, biopsies, many bottles of wine, one movie, many corny jokes and a lake of tears. When people ask, we sometimes tell them we have been together 28 years, counted in grief years.

It wasn't long ago that I began taking photographs of my family again in earnest, no longer seeing only our grief. As I edited them, I was taken by surprise by the ones of my own husband. There was the look. I studied it. Definitely the look, I decided. And I began frantically searching through the folders, the months and years, of photographs. There it is again. And again. Since Lucy died, every picture I took of him, he stared at the camera, me on the other side of the lens, giving me the smile, his smile, of unconditional love. I couldn't see beyond my own long, grief-colored nose to see that his love has been there the whole time.

How long have you and your partner been together? How do the years prior to your loss or losses help you navigate grief? What does your relationship look like after the months or years of grief? What do you take for granted in your relationship? How much of your relationship issues do you attribute to grief and loss?