Thinking about loss

Partly because we have been cleaning out Tom's folks' house.
My MIL lost her daughter before I met her, before I met Tom.
So far as I can tell, the family never really recovered.
Sair's birth helped a little.
She was the only grandchild, and, to the extent anything could, she brightened things up a lot.
We would take her over to visit, and everyone would play family.

Some of the problem was that, as much as my MIL loved Janet, they fought bitterly.
I think it was because grandmama wanted to raise her family as if she were still living an upper-class life in pre-WWII Nicaragua, and while the boys could work around some of the odder bits a girl had a harder time of it.
And Janet wouldn't be pushed around, or accept insane things.
So my MIL ended up shipping Janet off to relatives in El Salvadore when she was fourteen, and from there to boarding school in Ireland.
Janet had only been home again for a few weeks, when she was walking on Ocean Beach and saw someone in trouble in the water.
Janet had taken lifesaving, and tried to rescue him, and was herself pulled from the water not breathing.
Ocean Beach has a vicious undertow, and people die there regularly.
They managed to resuscitate her, but she had lost all brain function, and her parents had to take her off life-support.
Janet had just turned eighteen.

And while she was out of the house, dealing with details of the funeral, her sisters-in-law came to the house and were "helpful."
They had decided she would have an unhealthy obsession with Janet's things, so they bagged up everything and  donated it to charity.
Which I tend to think was criminally stupid and cruel.
People grieve in their own ways, and I think my MIL needed the physical objects to focus on.
And that side of Tom's family have seriously weird was of dealing with things.
His father called Tom at grad school to tell him about it, but said he needn't bother to come home and disturb his studies… the strange thing about it all is how sane Tom has managed to turn out.

It's been hard trying to empty out Tom's folks' house.
And dealing with his nuttier relatives.
I really wish I had a sister-in-law to help out with things.
Or some cousins for Sair on her father's side.
I never met Janet.
I only got to see how her loss continued to effect the family over the years

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13 responses to this post.

  1. How awful. I know that I have a few things of my brothers, maybe two or three, but they helped me to get past the hurt when he died. Not even anything important, just some childhood toys. It's just the thought that they were his…


  2. Yeah, I have no idea what they thought they were doing.


  3. Families are weird, and that's the truth.


  4. This is very sad and hard to read. You're right, some families never recover. Instead, they change permanently. I think that happened with my father's family; they lost their mother when they were children, and it was like the family unit just imploded. It makes you wonder why some recover and some don't.


  5. What a way to know someone. How sad, so sad. That's so awful that she was removed from the home, essentially, her spirit. I just hope that her mom had some way of holding on to her in memory. My dad's little sister died in 1976…the only piece of her left are my cousins and a few photos on Gma's wall. She died under horrible circumstances…and I noticed growing up that she was never discussed by anyone but my dad. he refused to let her memory die and resented how shut off the rest of the family was. When Mr. Nice's mom died in November, she left behind a home full of three childhoods. Gene and his sisters are still going through the house, slowly but surely, getting their stuff in line. Thank god all three of them are supportive of each other and the idea of keeping the home in the family. I can't imagine how difficult it would be if they were surrounded by disagreements. He's so lucky.


  6. It's a great conceit to assume that one's process of grieving is how it should be for everyone else. Having the effects of a loved one removed before one is prepared to let them go is like a second death in the family. I'm so sorry MIL has to go through this. And that you have to pick up the pieces. Just try not to get "enmeshed" in their stupidities and you'll be ok.


  7. How sad for them and how difficult to come home and find all the things of their child gone.And hang in there your self it is very difficult to dismantle a household and know what to keep and what to get rid of..


  8. I think granddad was in on it.That side of the family was odd.


  9. Aw, that's really sad..


  10. Oh, this is tragic……….to clear out her things……..her death and her life before it…..the animosity………All of that does seem to stay in a family, doesn't iti? It travels through the layers and leavs resiude of sadness and loss and what'-if's.*sigh*Clearing out the house must be so tough. ((((hugs))))And wow, the relatives we wish we'd had!! The ones we never got to meet, who never existed long enough, etc…WOW. (((((morehugs)))))


  11. That was beautifully written. It is a poem.I had a close friend and roommate die suddenly when he was 22. The saddest part was seeing his parents. They were never the same. None of us were. I still treasure the few things I have of his.


  12. You'll do fine, Lauo. It would be nice to know what sentimental things to keep, but use your own judgement or ask Tom if he recalls certain items that the family would want to keep. That's not an easy chore. I had to do it here at Mom's, but at least I knew what she would want to keep. I wish I could be of some help- sorry 😦


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