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Grief and Death

Meriah Nichols on Grief and Death

Grief and Death

I think death is the most familiar type of grief for most of us. It’s what we expect when hear the word, “grief.”

All of my death-related grief posts are on this page. They are mostly of my brother and my grandparents.

Following those posts will be my overall post on what helps with grief; tools and ideas that I have found to be helpful in moving through the process of grief.

My brother, for those of you who are new to this blog, is Dana. He was shot by 4 masked guys (who have yet to face justice), a victim in a senseless robbery. Dana was in a coma for 3 weeks before he was declared brain dead and removed from life support.

Dana was a year older than I, my only sibling and my best friend, closest confidant.

The Posts About Dana, My Grief & Death


news on my brother Dana

To the Edge of the Woods

There is nothing like a crisis for making social media meaningful. I mean, day in and day out, it’s just an information clearinghouse and news board. Then something huge happens and reading each and everyone’s comment of love and support means the world to me, when all I want to do is crawl into a …


I lost it yesterday morning. I mean, I really lost it. Moxie was hiding inside the dresser drawer, scarfing down popcorn after I told her countless times to get ready so we could go downstairs (in the hotel) and get breakfast (which would be over in 10 minutes). The boys seemed to have acquired her temporary deafness, …

The Problem with Belief

A belief is only a thought that you keep thinking. If you think anything long enough, it will become a belief. And, as everyone knows, whatever it is that you believe will become your reality. So the trick to changing things in your life is to focus on thinking thoughts that you WANT to believe, …


In the middle of a flight or fight.

Golden Boy

My memories help keep me strong – and writing helps too.

It’s Not Over Till It’s Over

Well. It turns out that Dana had been really into this one particular TED talk not so long ago. It was called, “Dying to Be Me” – Dana absolutely loved it and made his daughter Yu Han watch it. I put it on and watched it today in his room: (it’s captioned through corrected YouTube …

He is Gone

Dana has gone.

The Rabbit Hole

tunneling sides of grief.

A Bathtub

I’m having a hard day. Everything is reminding me of Dana, and of Dana being gone. It’s hitting me in every direction. That song? He’s gone. That movie? He’s gone. That joke? He’s gone. That book? He’s gone. He’s gone, he’s gone, HE IS GONE. With him goes the only person (besides Grandma) that I …

Proof of Heaven?

Eben Alexander’s “Proof of Heaven”

Pinched Off

Dana has been gone for 3 months.

Walking Through Water

My brother has been gone for 4 months I've developed a routine: I wake up in the morning, go and light a candle for my grandparents and for my great-aunt Ruby and place it in my shrine. I light another for my brother, Dana, which I carry with me to the couch. I wear Dana's [...]

It’s Been a Year, Grandma

a love letter to my Grandma

beef, beans and grief

I got into a conversation with the woman sitting at the table next to us at Beef & Beans, a summer event of American awesomeness at our local grange. I had never met her before, but Mikey told me that her husband did the wiring for our addition, before Dana left. "I liked what you [...]

“An Invocation for Beginnings”

An Invocation for Beginnings -     When I am gone and buried, I'd like a screen put on my gravestone and have this playing from it. originally published in April, 2012. 

If I Had Known Then What I Know Now

Trigger Warning: guns, violence, death. Grief. I am astonished at how aimless I remain, Dana. I’ve been waking up even earlier than my usual 5 in the morning, often at even 3:30. I get my coffee, my laptop, candles lit. Meditate. I get online, ready and raring to work, and then… I lose focus. I [...]

Seeing Spider Webs

a post on living with intention

A Morning Routine For Wellness

I think the concept of us being the creators of our lives is powerful. So powerful that it takes the passive and helpless and flips it. It was the one thing that truly changed how I feel about disability - about being deaf and having C-PTSD, about my daughter Moxie having Down syndrome. Feeling that [...]

Here’s Why 2017 Didn’t Suck

To my friends, it looks like 2017 sucked for me. Breakup of a 10-year marriage, right?! Leaving the Lost Coast. Grieving the death of my brother, Dana. I mean, I lost my home and my marriage in 2017. Added to that, my closest friends don't live close to me, so I didn't have much support [...]

Full Circle

When we first moved to Hawaii from Fiji, Dana was 14 and I was 13. We were too young to work in America - and we were both pretty upset about it, as Fiji had had no such "child welfare" rules. Being suddenly dependent on our (broke) parents was awful. Dana turned 15 (the legal [...]

Like the Ocean Flows

It’s not that I’m sitting around in misery each day. I’m not. Overall, I’ve never been happier in my life. It’s that when the pang comes, it comes so hard that it’s impossible to not write about it, or express it in some way. That happened this morning. I woke up – I had a …

“Don’t Be Scared of the Dark,” He Said

This is a post about grief. I had been crying so hard and so long that I couldn't open my eyes properly. They were puffy, swollen up so that seeing through them was a chore. I also didn't understand why this in particular was hitting me so hard. I was turning 45, you see. All [...]

The Impact of Disability on Siblings : The Story of Dana and Meriah

Here is the story of growing up with my brother Dana, first published on March 12, 2012. Dana left this world on Labor Day, 2016. ________________________________________________________________ I went through the windshield of a car when I was four years old, back in the day when seatbelts were charming accessories. The glass shredded my face, the head-on collision …

Here’s What Will Help You With Your Grief

A mostly-material smorgasbord of things that have helped me with grief.

On a Blue Butterfly We Will Fly

This is a post about missing my brother Dana, and birthdays. When you have lost someone you love, I think it's impossible to move through the world the same as you did before you lost them. Everything takes on new meaning - the feather that you see by your foot, the rainbow that bursts from [...]

The Truth About Bullets

On guns, grief and the truth the stories don’t tell

Understanding the Connection Between Flowers and Stars

This is a post about grief. I'll never forget driving to the Bay Area from Redding. Dana had been released from this life. Mom, Dana's daughters and I had dealt with the Sheriff's office for hours - since Dana had been shot in Humboldt county, and since the bullets were still in him when he [...]

Resources to Explain Death and Grief to Person with Down Syndrome or Intellectual Disability

This is a post with resources to explain grief and loss to anyone with an intellectual or developmental disability, but focuses on explaining grief to people with Down syndrome. It's available in distraction-free (- no ads) PDF for my patrons, linked here. It's also at the end of this post for people who benefit from access to [...]

3 Weeks & The Coma Diaries

Last year, triggered by a facebook memory, I started to write out each day of the 3 weeks that my brother Dana was in a coma. I started on August 13 – the day that he was shot. As each day unfolded, I sat pre-dawn of each morning and pulled up the memories from that …

On this day, 4 years ago.

On this day, 4 years ago. You can hear me read this by clicking below, or subscribing to the podcast at the end of this post. _________________________________________________________________ I don’t have such a memory for this day, 4 years ago. I didn’t post anything on social media on this day, 4 years ago. My dear friend …

In Fog: August 14

You can hear me read this by clicking below, or subscribing to the podcast at the end of this post. ____________________________________________________ While I had no Facebook memories yesterday, my facebook memories for today, August 14th, I had a post.  At first glance, I thought I had written something about my brother being shot the day …

August 15: Blips

You can hear me read this by clicking below, or subscribing to the podcast at the end of this post. August 15, 2016 Dana was in the ICU of Mercy Hospital in Redding. As Mercy Hospital had a deal with a nicer hotel for families of ICU patients, we shifted rooms there first thing in …

August 16: Settling In

You can hear me read this by clicking below, or subscribing to the podcast at the end of this post. _____ August 16, 2016 I so expected Dana to open his eyes at any moment. I took this photo, and this, fully expecting him to wake up at any minute. Look at you! Wired up, …

August 17: Tethered In Limbo

The bullets were still in Dana. And where he had been torn open by those same bullets was open, covered by wraps. He was being constantly examined for surgery upon surgery – they were not even at the point of getting the bullets out of him. His feet and legs were in pressurized leg wraps …

August 18

Our days were unfolding into a rhythm: wake up at the crack of dawn, go to the hotel breakfast buffet. Their delight in the breakfast array never failed to delight me. It reminded me so much of how excited Dana and I would get over the same stuff when we were kids ourselves. Then we’d …

August 19: Sepsis

August 19, 2016 On this day I could only see Dana once, for a few brief minutes. He had sepsis, and was in danger of losing his hands and feet. This was made more real and serious to me by a friend of a friend, a mother, who had recently had her hands and feet …

August 20 & To The Edge of the Woods

August 20, 2016 Dana loved kids and was wonderful with them, in part, I think, because he had such a playful spirit himself. He exuded this sense of mischief, childlike glee in life. My third child Mack was difficult for me when he was a baby. He would endlessly cry. I was going through a …

August 21st

This is from the 3 week series that honors the time that my brother Dana spent in coma. _______ August 21, 2016 Dana’s oldest daughter Yu Han’s birthday is August 24. Because her brother Jrin Long and his family were only visiting Dana for a short while, we celebrated her birthday early, together. I remember …

August 22

August 22, 2016 Being in limbo. Caught in a waiting space.  Confusing fog that blanketed my reality.  And my kids, living wholly in the moment. Soaking up the moment. Enjoying the bagels. Playing everywhere, anywhere they could They were not allowed in to see Dana, their spaces were strictly limited to the public areas. Sometimes …

August 23: Groundhog Day

________ August 23rd, 2016 There is something really satisfying about baldly stating what I remember of the events of those 3 weeks that Dana was in coma.  There is also something really satisfying about posting unedited photos, all photos that are still on my camera roll, that I haven’t really looked at until now.  I …

August 24: Yu Han’s Birthday

August 24, 2016 Dana’s first daughter was born on August 24, 1990.  She was born in a very small rural rice farming community in Taiwan, and for her birth, my parents flew over from Hawaii. My dad put together a rocking chair for her mom, Jeanie. We assembled cloth diapers and precious tiny baby clothes.  …

August 25: In the Lava Lamp

August 25, 2016 Days were blurring, blurring, blurred.  I’d wake up, pray, meditate, write on the floor of the hotel room in the dark, with my laptop on a pillow on my lap.  When the kids woke up, they came over to me for hugs, I’d set the laptop to the side as soon as …

August 26th: The Gun Sticker

August 26, 2016 This was apparently the only photo that I took on this day. I can’t explain the depths of revulsion that I felt when I saw that. People who love guns? I don’t think they have ever seen someone they love blown up by one. 

August 27: Back to the Yurt

August 27, 2016 I wrote this blog post on August 27:  I lost it yesterday morning. I mean, I really lost it. Moxie was hiding inside the dresser drawer, scarfing down popcorn after I told her countless times to get ready so we could go downstairs (in the hotel) and get breakfast (which would be over in …

August 28th: On the Lost Coast

As with this series, the diary accounts of each day come from my photo roll, the photos that I took on that day… August 28, 2016 We lived on the Lost Coast of California. The Lost Coast is a stretch above Fort Bragg and below Eureka, in which Highway 1 was circumnavigated around the coast …

August 29th: On the Lost Coast Part 2

August 29, 2016 There was a lot that I loved about the Lost Coast, and the little school there was one of them. I called it “The Best School Ever” on my blog, and I meant it. There was so much that was great about it.  I was positive that Dana was going to wake …

August 30th and 31st: Through the Fog & Back to Redding

August 30, 2016 Micah and Moxie were going to school. I see my husband in the photo on the right, taking Moxie to the truck, and I see Micah standing on the hill by where we parked the trucks. I must have walked them to the truck to see them off.  I don’t remember. It’s …

September 1st

September 1st, 2016 We headed straight for the ICU as morning came on September 1st.  That was a double BOB stroller, incredibly large and incredibly useful. I put all of their snacks, devices, games, clothing changes in that thing and never had to worry about needing to carry them if they fell asleep. The waiting …

September 2nd: Silence

September 2nd, 2016 I went through the windshield of a car when I was 4 years old. An event of great magnitude, it shaped my life and yet it was one of silence.  It was peaceful.  I am sure that in the moment, at the time, it was a tornado of twists and energy, but …

September 3rd: The Family Meeting

September 3rd, 2016 With everyone arriving in Redding and needing to be with Dana, I stayed at the hotel, mostly in the jacuzzi.  My husband was there, so for the first time, I had the chance to simply breathe and be in the moment and not feel the constant hum in the back of my …

September 4th: Labor Day

September 4th, 2016 My mom reached out to me while I was sitting in the hot tub on the morning of September 4th, staring at the rust-red wall in front of me without seeing anything. My mom said that the doctors had done another test on Dana and they declared him brain dead.  I was …

September 5th

(prefacing to say that I can’t bear to read this out loud right now. I am sorry) ___________ September 5th 2016 Dana was declared brain dead on September 4th, and this is why September 4th was the date noted on his death certificate, not September 5th. We did not know this at the time though, or …

things that help with grief | image of a woman with light hair with hands clasped, looking down into the light

What Helps With Grief

This is a long post about what helps with grief, any grief. The tools that I talk about in here are applicable to all types of grief, including grief from death.

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