September 12

The Rabbit Hole


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I wake up every morning with this weight on my chest. It’s huge, dark, heavy, I can’t breathe.

The little ones are invariably cuddled against my sides in the (highly comfortable) pull out bed that we are inhabiting at Mom’s house now. I lie there, feel their small bodies against mine, stare up at the ceiling and let tears slip silently down my face.

I try to breathe against the huge, heavy weight on me, the darkness that surrounds.

I try to breathe.

Try to take that breath in through my nose that I tell my kids to take, out through my mouth.


Mom and I teeter forward, holding on to each other.

There is so much to do.

Death is full of business, cuts no slack.

It’s the impossible, the unimaginable, our world without Dana.

One or the other or both of us stop, think we just can’t do this. And somehow a foot will follow the other and numbly, we trudge on.



I laid down on the grass next to my mother at the cemetery.

We were on the grass that covered her parent’s graves.

Dana’s plot in which he will be buried was directly ahead of us.

I realized that Dana had been standing on his own grave only 6 months ago as we buried our Grandma. My face sank in the grass, my heart went down the tunnel of uncomprehending, soul-cell splinting sorrow.

I saw my mom’s face in the grass too, saw her shoulders shaking, and I couldn’t even imagine what she must be facing right now, what her tunnel is like.


The kids help us.

I’m pretty sure that Mom and I would be flying down our respective rabbit holes of grief if the kids were not grounding us, absolutely calling us to BE PRESENT.


I am resentful; I am deeply grateful.

I don’t want to tend to their needs; I would be lost without this.

photo credit: eagle ( #cc ) via photopin (license)

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Meriah Nichols is a career counselor, teacher and blogger. Single mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E), she is also a cat-loving Trekkie who likes her coffee hot and black.
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  1. I’m so very sorry. I know through your blog how much your brother meant to you. Time will help, we all have the same call, one day we will all leave…. he just went sooner! sending you hugs and prayers of comfort to your family. XOXO Carolina

  2. Meriah, my heart aches for you and your mother. This grief that you are feeling is so deep. I lost my brother a few years ago and thought that I can hardly believe that my body doesn’t just get torn apart from this grief-it has such a physicality to it. Losing my brother sometimes feels like the oxygen that I used to breath has changed because my entire existence has only existed with him in it. I read your post and I cry. I cry for the loss of my brother. I cry for the loss of yours…but I can also say with certainty that grief isn’t linear. I suppose that is both good and bad. Tomorrow might somehow be filled with a moment or two of sweet memories, while a year from now there might be a really soul crushing ache for him..
    Please just know that I really am holding you, your children, your partner, and your dear mother in my heart.

    1. “Losing my brother sometimes feels like the oxygen that I used to breath has changed because my entire existence has only existed with him in it” – that’s exactly how I feel. I love you, Saige. Thank you.

  3. Holding you all in my heart as you learn to intergrate this massive hit. I grieved a horrible loss while parenting a newborn, and the first few years were a battle between that call to presence, and the slide towards the pain and agony. You captured that perfectly with your words. My heart hurts to even imagine loosing him. He was beautiful.

  4. Just wanted to say that I’m sending so much love to you on the cavernous loss of your brother, Dana. We lost our 4yo son four months ago and I know that trudge of putting one foot in front of the other and feeling simultaneously resentful and grateful for the needs of our other two children, which keep our feet firmly planted in reality. One day at a time, my friend x

  5. Sending blessings of love and comfort to your broken hearts Meriah. It is unthinkable, yet is has happened. I am so sorry, and the depth of pain you feel and the depth of love you had for your brother, I can feel it from here. You and your Mom and Dana and his kids and wife and everyone are in our thoughts, as we continue to send love and healing and comfort. Bless you baby.

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