Pink morning sky off in the distance with stark bare branches of tall deciduous trees in foreground all in late autumn, photographed for My Forever Son: Chronicling Grief, Hope, and Healing After Losing My Son to Suicide, "Matins-Reflections on Hope After Loss"
Pink Morning Sky, My Forever Son

Matins: Reflections on Hope After Loss

Cluster of Pink Ground Roses photographed for My Forever Son: Chronicling Grief, Hope, and Healing, Poem I Send All the Love My Heart Can Hold
I Send All the Love My Heart Can Hold, My Forever Son

Reflections on Hope After Loss

Matins (by John O'Donohue)

Morning Prayer


Somewhere, out at the edges, the night
is turning and the waves of darkness
Begin to brighten on the shore of dawn.

The heavy dark falls back to earth
And the freed air goes wild with light,
The heart fills with fresh, bright breath
And thoughts stir to give birth to color.


I arise today

In the name of Silence
Womb of the Word,
In the name of Stillness
Home of Belonging,
In the name of Solitude
Of the soul and the Earth.

I arise today

Blessed by all things,
Wings of breath,
Delight of eyes,
Wonder of whisper,
Intimacy of touch,
Eternity of soul,
Urgency of thought,
Miracle of health,
Embrace of God.

May I live this day

Compassionate of heart,
Clear of word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.

John O’Donohue, Irish poet and philosopher
“Matins” (Morning Prayer)
From To Bless the Space Between Us

Pink Resurrection Lily Blooming in Summer, photographed for My Forever Son: Chronicling Grief, Hope, and Healing After Losing My Son to Suicide, "Matins: Reflections on Hope After Loss" and "Rain Comes to Heal Us All"
Rain Comes to Heal Us All, My Forever Son

Reflections on Hope After Loss

Photo of sun-dappled green leaves of a saucer cup magnolia tree in summer, photographed for My Forever Son: Chronicling Grief, Hope, and Healing After Losing My Son to Suicide, Matins-Reflections on Hope After Loss
Sun Dappled Leaves of a Magnolia Tree, My Forever Son

Upon Awakening

Reflections on Hope After Loss: And so it is I’ve arisen today, yet again–sometimes enough just as is. Always my coming to, my lying there in stillness, my awareness that I am here, that I have breath. Then attempts at prayer, gratitude, some days, impossible, but when remembered, comforting.

It is Saturday, gorgeous out for early May, warmth of sun and delight of blue skies, and I have been busy. It is only recently that I have acquired this ability to be up and about, scurrying about, getting things done that I really want and need to get done. At first, in early grieving, the being knocked totally flat, unable to rise or find energy or wherewithal to do, go, see, hear, be anything save the shape of my heart’s grief. 

Slowly, years really, it took years–the rise into daylight, being able to see sky, feel the temperature, witness the seasons. Between June 2012 and September 2013, I do not remember ever being aware of anything outside. At some point, I went back to work, and I’m sure I must have worn a coat, gloves, something, but I can’t remember anything about the weather. Fifteen months of grieving to find nature again. Grief is a slow drip.

Close up of yellow and green-flicked leaves of a lemon balm herb on stone ledge
Lemon Balm Herb on Stone Ledge, My Forever Son

Landscape of Grief

I belong to an ever-changing landscape of grief that defies any kind of predictability. I’m never quite able to prepare for what is to come. God knows I’d like to know. Today, I’m okay. Really okay. Better than okay, I think, though I’m always scared to feel too happy. It’s not guilt. It’s not that I feel guilty for feeling happy in the wake of having lost Dylan to suicide. It’s more like waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was happy in 2010. Amazingly happy. And then death’s door came to steal my joy and my son.

Maybe it was there from the get-go after the deputy sheriff and his two cohorts pounded on my front door at 4:00 a.m. Monday, June 25, 2012. Maybe it was in seeing the biggest one, a huge wedge of a man, tall, burly, cumbersome, with a Ziploc bag with Dylan’s cell phone and wallet, the one I’d gotten him for Christmas a few years back.

Maybe it was hearing the grotesquely understated and wildly obscure voice of the deputy sheriff: “Your son had some convulsions and didn’t make it.” Just that. Like that. Flat. Stiff. Dead. My son’s corpse. The hideous corpse of inadequate words forever echoing in all that I am.

Red and orange Crocosmia in Full Sun in summer, photographed for My Forever Son: Chronicling Grief, Hope, and Healing After Losing My Son to Suicide, mmer, My Forever Son, Matins: Reflections on Hope After Loss:
Red-Orange Crocosmia in Summer, My Forever Son

My Hidden Room

Maybe it really was then that I just gave up on anything permanent or lasting or forever. There is a hidden room in the house where I grieve Dylan, the house where my soul now resides, tethered, encumbered with the weight of gravity and musts and have-to’s.

I used to live in a house, a soul, that lived in this room all the time, and it is in this room that I met, fell in love, married, gave birth to Dylan, launched a band, recorded CD’s, pursued life with passion. But that room sealed tightly shut when the deputy sheriff’s words became the essence of my reality on June 25th: That reality is my here, now, as is.

This is my room of what was: The make-believe world in which I lived, the one where the prince finds the princess, they get married, they give birth to a child, and glory be! A son, to inherit their kingdom, and everything–everything!–is going to be okay. I mean, if it isn’t going to be “okay,” then I’m not sure I even want to try–or worse still, be here now, as is, after the fact and unable to change anything save the structure of the imposter world that remains.

Purple Lilac Cluster in Bloom in Spring, photographed for My Forever Son: Chronicling Grief, Hope, and Healing After Losing My Son to Suicide, "Matins-Reflections on Hope After Loss"
Purple Lilac in Bloom in Spring, My Forever Son

Living With Loss

I have lost so much throughout the years. Twenty years ago, my father. First five years of 2000’s, my grandma and my aunt. Growing up, beloved grandparents and great-grandparents, pets, places I lived, where I went to school, and crushes on boys that went nowhere.

I have been rejected and disappointed, let down and disillusioned, and had to fight my way back numerous times. I know the truth of living a life that isn’t idyllic, of having to come to terms with this is what life has dealt, of making do even when what is needed is just not there. I’ve loved–and lost, and I’ve struggled, God, I’ve struggled, with depression. Depression. Always the depression.

And yet I still believed in an “okay,” that everything would be all right in the end. I don’t know, maybe someday, the room where everything really is “okay” will be opened back up to the rest of my house. Right now, I don’t always have access to that room, and in the end, to trust unsealing that room would take an infinite act of faith and trust.

Not an act of faith and trust in God, per se (I believe and have faith in God, I believe and have hope in seeing Dylan again), but in trusting the impermanence of everything here. Maybe I’m still rallying against the forces that be, against the thrust of the universe–No, God, No–not my child, take anything, please, just not my son. Please God, not my son.

“Life is hard” opened a book, I just didn’t know it was opening mine. My life is like an M.C. Escher painting–nothing is as it seems. I live in the oppositional undertow of an “okay” life. I am a salmon swimming the wrong way, one who’s lost her grip and sense of direction, floundering to hold on to an absolute illusion of everything everyone has ever taught me about life. 

And so I arise today always in a world absolutely foreign to me. I will be home again when I see Dylan. In the meantime, I make do, and having my little white cat helps. So does making tea, dehydrating fruits and veggies, taking a walk in the woods. Staying in the moment, being mindful of the moment, just to take in the sun. It really is a beautiful life–I just wish Dylan could have stayed.

Green and gold hosta about to burst into blooms of purple with winged insect on hosta leaf, photographed for My Forever Son: Chronicling Grief, Hope, and Healing After Losing My Son to Suicide, "Matins: Reflections on Hope After Loss"
Green and Gold Sun Hosta with Winged Insect, My Forever Son

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