Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Heartbreak of grief April 12, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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(Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo used for illustration only)

THE LAST TIME I shopped for sympathy cards 10 days ago, I thought I’d picked up enough to last a while. But I need more after what has been a really difficult week within my circle.

On Sunday, friends lost their great nephew. Just over a year old, he was struggling to recover from earlier heart surgery. The day prior to his death, this beloved toddler finally came off his heart-lung machine. Those who loved him most felt a collective glimmer of hope even as he remained on a ventilator. And then he died. On Easter morning. I cried great heaving sobs for this darling boy I’d never met, only seen in photos, his body bloated, tubes taped in place, baby fine hair spiking. My heart broke with the sort of grief that rises from deep within a mother’s spirit. Aching. Hurting. Overpowering in its intensity.

Another mother is experiencing similar grief. My cousin’s daughter’s husband died unexpectedly last week, only 18 months into their marriage. How do you, as a mother, console your daughter whose heart is broken? That, too, seems insurmountable. Beyond difficult. As moms, we want to “fix” everything, make it all better. To bear witness to such grief while grieving requires incredible strength. I feel my cousin’s pain as she strives to be there for her now widowed daughter.

And then there are the friends whose nephew died tragically in a recent car accident. When I saw a portrait of the young man and a photo of his one-year-old son, my heart broke for a baby without his daddy, a wife without her husband, parents without a son… So much grief just pouring out for this family.

I wish I could take away the grief, the pain, the suffering. I think when death is unexpected, as it was in all of these situations, it’s decidedly more difficult to accept. We understand when aging parents and grandparents die, even when someone with an aggressive form of cancer dies. We’ve already begun mentally preparing, grieving even before death. But this, these deaths, shock the emotions.

In the all of vicariously grieving, I will do what I can to support my friends and cousin. I’ll purchase more sympathy cards, pen notes written from the heart and pray for comfort to come. I care. Because they are hurting, I hurt.

© Copyright 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


16 Responses to “Heartbreak of grief”

  1. beth Says:

    this is incredibly heartbreaking to read, even without knowing any of them or their families personally. It is so hard to process why things happen, and when it does, we each try to support those who are effected, even though we are mourning the loss right along with them. your writing to them will be treasured more than you will know.

  2. You’re a sweet, compassionate , soul. Bless you, Audrey. ❤

  3. Prayers for comfort and healing. (((((((((loveandhugs)))))))

  4. Rose Says:

    sending heart hugs during this difficult time of loss.

  5. Norma Says:

    I cried as I read this. I cry when I read these things in my local newspaper. Young policeman killed in the line of duty. Some young person with an expectant wife, or young children left to grieve. What is it that causes this grief about people that I don’t even know?

    • I think there are several reasons you and I react as we do to such deaths, even when we don’t know the individual. First, we are human. Second, we are compassionate souls. Third, the death reminds us of our own losses and triggers emotions. Hugs to you, Norma. Thank you for caring so much.

  6. All the losses add up and I am so very sorry for each of these lives lost. Keep sending those cards—- they really do help people when they know someone cares.

  7. Yes, when death is unexpected it seems harder. Even knowing that death is part of life, that it happens all the time, we still grieve because we have loved. I’m glad we love anyway.

  8. Valerie Says:

    It’s a lot you are carrying right now…for you and for your loved ones. You are thoughtful and caring and it’s evident in the way you reach out to others.

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