What To Do The Day Your Loved One Dies

All of the above

Jenny Harrington


Photo by Jenny Harrington

What do you do the day your loved one dies?

A. Cry until you can’t cry anymore, for today

B. Go to bed and do nothing

C. Take a walk

D. All of the above

There is no correct answer, but I choose D. To a child, D stands for ducks. On this day, D stood for death. This is the story of D or The Day We Came Home From The Hospital Without Our Son.

I went straight to bed. I don’t remember much, like how long I slept or what I did. I do remember family floating in and out of my bedroom. Someone brought a cup of tea. A box of Kleenex appeared on the side table. The morning passed with my eyes closed and head under covers. By afternoon, I needed to stretch.

I asked Michael, “Will you take a walk with me.”

“Of course.”

We zipped up our jackets. It was a cool May day, late in the afternoon. Sitting on the front porch bench, we laced up our shoes like we’d done a million times. But this time felt piercingly different. It felt unbearable. I looked over and next to the front door and could see our child’s shoes. I wanted to go back to bed and wallow, but taking a walk was something I needed to do. I was on a mission to revisit a sign I had seen on our drive home. Was any of this real?

Yes, it was. The letter board sign of the congregational church near our house read Short Lives Glow with Heartbreaking Beauty. As much as I hoped, it hadn’t been a dream.

Michael and I ambled on and crossed the street. I noticed delicate, pink dogwood blossoms. After living, what felt like a lifetime in the hospital, I realized that spring was here. New life abound all around. It hurt to see nature in bloom as much as it hurt to see those shoes by the front door.

Hand-in-hand, we wend our way to a favorite pocket park — the duck pond. Ellis Pond is the proper name of this local gem. It is a secluded, wooded park nestled between residential homes. We simply refer to it as the duck pond for the family of mallards that reside year-round in the pond’s muddy waters. It is such an institution that on our very first trip to the Seattle-area…



Jenny Harrington

Author, researcher, mother living on an island near Seattle. Now, notably, an international bunny smuggler. Find her struggles and snuggles at www.teamewan.com