Thank you. I love it when you write like this. Thank you for sharing that with us. xoxo
I experienced the same kind of pain repeatedly over this Christmas. My mother passed away of brain cancer (really, really awful) in March, and although it's still pretty fresh, I've found it's gotten harder with time, not better. In a twisted way, I'm glad I'm not the only one who has experienced the lie of "it will get better with time". It doesn't.
And the worst is those who assume you should, with time, "get over it". I believed that, at the time, I would feel like myself again in a month or two. The truth is we are and forever will be missing a piece of our hearts. We have to learn to deal with the pain, not make it go away.
Sorry for you loss and pain, PZ, but thank you for sharing your story Dan. Looking forward to your mother's recipe next Christmas.
No, it doesn't. I'm finding that out as well.

I'm glad to hear that on the 2nd Christmas without her present you are able to make the cookies of fond memories and share both the cookies and the rememberances with your family near and far.

You and yours are in the thoughts of many of us - especially those of us who know how times of celebration can underscore how deep and strong our feelings of loss are for those who are no longer with us.
It does suck! Loss reframes everything and sucker punches you when you least expect it. So, so very sorry, love. Sending you love and virtual hugs.

It's sugar cookies at our home that hold those bittersweet memories, and it isn't Christmas without them.
dan, beautiful post. she was awesome. sorry again for your loss.
Everytime one of my friends talks about how their dad "was mean" and withheld something they wanted or teased them mercilessly, I just always respond with, "my dad is dead." What I wouldn't give to have my dad be mean to me, or tease me mercilessly, or better yet, care enough to do so.

It really drives me nuts that people don't appreciate those close to them, who are still alive. There is a million things I never learned about my father, that he never learned about me, and that of course my last words to him were cliched and mean. I was down right mean. He broke my heart, so I was mean.

And now he's dead. Every time my friends complain , my heart breaks again, because I was mean to him when I didn't have to be, and now he's dead.

Thanks, Dan. Now I'm crying at work, because my dad is dead.
Yes. As always, thanks for sharing.
Dan, I found out this year that my father died 5 years ago. I dont have a reference for the death of a beloved parent, but your writing makes it more real for me.

I mourned the vacancy in my life of a real father, and I honor you and your mother. Take care, Dan. I know you hate being touched by strangers, so no hugs or anything, but I raise a cup of eggnog to youand your mom's cookie recipe.
A friend suggested after my recent breakup - eight years together, but we weren't married so I can't call it a divorce even though "breakup" is wholly inadequate and my life now is largely unrecognizable - that you never get over people, you just learn to live with the loss. Maybe that's true sometimes, maybe even most of the time, but I don't think it's inevitable.

I guess that's true, sort of - but isn't that what healing is? It's just the healing from loss doesn't happen quite as autonomously as healing from wounds. You have to work at it and it's hard and it takes a long time... and our society of course encourages you to repress emotions or deal with them destructively and violently, which doesn't help anything. It's not a matter of "just cheer up" but I don't think resigning yourself to hurting forever helps, either.

I don't know. I have a damned hard time accepting the idea of permanent damage or disability. The (metaphorical) spirit's ability to overcome almost anything is pretty important to me, and if it's true that emotional wounds heal slowly and that the scars stay tender for a long, long time, it's also true, I think, that they don't have to impair you or represent the sort of inexorable entropic march to the grave that PZ's heartfelt but pessimistic post implies.

Anyway, I'm sorry you're still hurting, Dan, and thanks for sharing. I hope your holidays were wonderful.
Dan, thanks. It really doesn't. Hugs.
It doesn't get better with time, and it doesn't go away, but living with it becomes easier. When my mom died (about a year ago) I couldn't even look at pictures of her without sobbing. I was obviously a total wreck at her funeral. She wrote me a letter in her last few days and I still haven't read it. But now I can talk about her, and say the word "mom" and tell stories and I can even laugh about them. I don't know - I wonder what it'll be like ten years down the road. Maybe it's a long-term thing, maybe it'll be better in twenty or thirty years.
What does it mean if you do get it over it?

Sometimes it doesn't get better --- and sometimes it does.

When it is better, you lose your Grieving Me persona and have to -- get to, actually -- move into something else in your life.
Tears make everything sweeter somehow.
Dan, I'll trade you my mother's christmas cutouts recipe for your mother's cocoa pecan cookie recipe. And yes you're right, you never really get over it, but the memories become bittersweet and the pain you can wrap around you like a warm soft flannel. Embrace it and by all means bake the cookies. In my Italian family, food equals love.
I lost my Dad the same day Dan lost his Mom. We've been known to trade sympathetic e-mails about it on the anniversary date. My mother's still going, and (unbelievably) still making her Christmas cookies even, but yup, I've got the recipe for when that day may come.

Danny Boy, buck up - you made your Mom proud to have you for a son. That's all anybody can ask for.
You never get over it. My dad died 16 years ago and my mom 14. It utterly sucked then (I was almost 22 with my dad and had just turned 24 with my mom) because I was too young to deal with it and the rest of life at that point properly, and it sucks now because I realize how much of my life I have missed having them.

And it's always the little things - the smell of Old Spice (the only aftershave my dad ever used) or opening my mom's old jewelery box and watching the little plastic ballerina spin around to "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head."

It does get easier to live with, though. Sorta. Kinda.
Sometimes the pain goes away. It depends on the loss. A lot of poeple are uncomfortable accepting the loss and feeling less pain. They feel guilty over not hurting if it was someone really close like a parent or child. I don't have kids and my parents are alive so I guess the extent of my knowledge if from reading about the psychology of guilt over loss in a book.

Condolences to all but consider this. When you cry you burn calories and lose salt and water so go grab a cookie to help replace some of what your body lost.
I experienced the same thing this year with my mother's baked macaroni and cheese. We lost her Christmas Day 2008. There's so much emotion tied up with food.
It's been 19 years since my father passed away. The pain doesn't show up as often as it did the first few years after he passed away, but when it does show up it's like having my heart ripped out all over again. I'm crying as I write this just thinking about it.My thoughts are with you Dan.
My maternal grandmother died when my own mother was 48. It was one of the causes of her outbreak of depression. She killed herself when I was 15. I'm almost 30 now. It did get easier but it took many years, not one or two. And it does come back and sucker-punch you, like thinking about this post did for me. A very sad part is that I was so young that now I don't have many memories left of my mom that don't center around her death, and she will never know me as an adult.

Everyone who can, call your mother and tell her how much you love and appreciate her. I wish I had when I was 15.
I agree - you don't "get over it" - it just becomes the new normal. My dad died two years ago, completely unexpectedly, and for me, the first person I'd ever really lost. I miss him every day, even though I know that in many ways I live, I celebrate his life.

I heard someone on Fresh Air say that it takes great courage to deal with death. I'd never heard it put like that, but I totally concur.
It's been 14 years since my biggest loss (best friend, we were 25) and I can agree with the original quote. It doesn't feel like it did six months later, and the painful jabs become less frequent, but they don't go away completely and they can still take my breath away at times. For me it's doing laundry, among many other things that make him jump to the forefront.
The good news is he lives on in my dreams. Every couple years he comes to visit, we frolic in a field or roll around on a couch and I can smell him, touch him, connect with him emotionally. I feel so blessed to have these giant gifts from... my psyche, our bond, whatever. I wish the same to all of you who suffer- they didn't start for a couple of years but they continue apace.
My Mom died 35 years ago last month, my Dad shortly after and my Brother recently. One minute you're doubled over laughing about a memory and the next you're being sucker punched in the gut when you least expect it. Once the tears and pain subside, I find myself laughing about the crying because that is what "they" would want me to do.

A couple of quotes about death came to mind when I read this...

The idea is to die young as late as possible.


Death is a very dull, dreary affair, and my advice to you is to have nothing whatsoever to do with it.

Yep. My dad actually copied the recipe for my late mother's incredible pumpkin bread she made every year for me, so it wouldn't be in her handwriting...he knew that would upset me too much to ever actually make it.

Next year, you send me a batch of your cookies and I'll send you some bread.

"Even though you're alone in your boat, it's always comforting to see the lights of other boats bobbing nearby" -Yalom
Dan, your mom loved you and Terry and DJ. And she was proud of you. And you continue to make her proud.

Thank you for this post.
January 10th will mark the 20 year anniversary of my dad's death, when I was 17 years old. He was my only parent, and his death -- even though I kind of hated him -- pretty much leveled me for the better part of a year. He would have been 60 this coming February.

I think it actually does get better. I say this only by way of comparison; I remember the grief and fear and confusion I felt as a 17 year old on my own and the constant unshakable awareness that a foundation stone had been ripped out of my universe. But twenty years later I live in a different universe because I'm a very different person, and I've built new foundations that have nothing to do with him or anything he touched (except me, of course). I remember his smell, and his voice and the things he liked, but I can't imagine him in my life now because I've built so much of it without him, so I don't feel his absence from it.

Of course, I was young and we were totally cut off from his family because he was gay and they were all screaming homophobes, and then all the other adults in my life from that time died right around the same time he did. So pretty much a giant invisible hand wiped away everything in my world except me, and left me to reinvent myself. You, Dan, still have your brothers and your husband and your son and everyone else who knew and loved your mom, so her absence will continue to be reflected in your relationship with everything around you and it may be harder for you to get past it. But I guess that's what you might call a price worth paying or a mixed blessing or some other euphemism for something hard to describe.
I lost my brother six years ago, my mother five years ago, my father three years ago, and my best friend and love (to a horrific crime) not long after. So I'm walking alone in the world at 34 years old, and no one ever seems to "get" it. I thank you, Dan, for this post.
I know your mother's passing is still fresh in your mind and we all deal with grief in our own way, but you don't strike me as the kind of guy who stands around baking cookies and weeping. Why don't you start a foundation or scholarship in your moms name? It's a real way for you to express to other's the impact she had on your life.
Dan, my mom died a few months after yours. Since then I've found these posts to be really heartbreaking, but also comforting.
guys, it will become less of an open wound, but it takes longer than a couple of years...
and it doesn't mean you love them less or have forgotten when it is not quite as raw, it just means that the happy memories are fighting their way back to the front of your mind.
and anyway, our loved ones aren't 'gone'; they're just not here, for a little while. you'll see them again...
My condolences to all, it's good to know that we don't walk this path alone.

Take care.
Aw, Jesus, @31, did you have to go and weird-out a perfectly good thread with your fucking "you'll see them again" bullshit?

No you won't. They're fucking dead. Trust me on this one.
It always turns one's world upside-down to lose someone close, & why it hurts so much @ Christmas is beyond me. I don't even *like* Christmas that much. But that's when I miss my dad the most.

Dan, I want that recipe. I wish you'd post it sooner than later; some of us have run out of mileage on our old holiday cookie recipes.

Thanks for mentioning your mom. I once wrote you a long stoned Email about how I understood, missing my dad..but it's nice to be reminded that Mr. Snarkypants has a heart. ;)

Now, you're the parent, Dan.
jeebuz, quit whining. those of us who think you are an ass are not dissuaded by this dreck.

even douche bags have parents.

enjoy your cookies, douche.
Oh Eva. I drunk-emailed Dan once too. But unlike your letter, mine probably wasn't the least bit helpful. I honestly wouldn't blame him if he blocked my email after that one. :-)

But, damn. I've never written him for advice, because I never had to. All I needed to do was read his archives, and eventually I found the answers to the shit that was happening to me. It's hard to put into words what it means to me. He helped me with some self-esteem issues and he helped my relationship--two things that are more important to me than anything else in my life.

When someone does that for you, especially without even knowing it, it's hard not to write an embarrassing, fan-girl email. ::shudder::

So, yeah, Dan's Mom kicks ass. Both of hid Dads do too.
Aw Dan, so sorry for your pain. Virtual, non-touching hugs.

Thanks, you help so many people. Lost my mom 3 1/2 years ago, Christmas was her favorite day of the year. Mother still loves me.

Email, Non-touching Hugs to you and your family.
much love to you, Dan....let's hope we all make it through the holidays safely and with a little grace and sanity.
This is very, very scary to me. I'm 30, and the losses I've already accumulated sometimes feel like they're going to crush me (cuz, right, they never really go away). I know I've got some BIG ones ahead -- like my parents, neither of whom is very healthy -- and I can't really imagine surviving them in any meaningful sense.

Life is so hard.
@9-I divorced after an 8 year relationship, and it was awful, but it's nothing compared to your parents' deaths.

All the way up until my mother died, she would have times where she cried over the loss of her mother, which happened 30 years prior. When I was younger, I didn't understand. I'd say "It happened so long ago." She said, "You never get over losing your mother."

It's been 12 years for mom, 18 for dad, and I'm still not over either. I have things each of them wrote, and those are really powerful reminders that I can only look at when I know I have time and privacy to cry.

Blessings and comfort to you, Dan. And maybe that's your little Christmas miracle--foolproof cookies from mom that you can cry through.
Indeed, it never goes away. And it never will. But there's nothing wrong with that- the pain is natural, and it is indeed crushing, but the heart is capable of withstanding a lot of punishment.

What helps is knowing that there's other people out there that have gone through what you have. All you need to do to make it better and easier to bear is to reach out to others in a similar position.

Holidays are usually depressing for me since, despite living with my mother and stepdad, my being gay and closeted to most of my family makes the time lonely. I'm not connected to my family. There is no family dinner, or hugs or kisses or trips to the movie theaters or time out shopping. I'm on my own. Most of my chosen family consists of a few friends, some real and some online, but unfortunately they're usually busy with their own real families. So in order to deal with feeling as though I'm being shunted aside, I add small bits of Christmas cheer to my life. Before winter break started, for example, I spent the week coming to school in a santa hat. I snuck candy onto some teachers (and students, in a few cases) desks. I sent presents in the mail to my chosen family, which they've gotten only recently but are overjoyed to have (we never really get eachother anything, so now they owe me!).

The point is? You need to remember those people that you love and dread losing, and tell them, either through words or deed. Your shared companionship is what keeps both of you going, because the world does indeed suck in the grand scheme of things. But when you're alone with friends and enjoying yourself, the world suddenly seems so much smaller...
Kim, sorry about the duplicate quote but you're absolutely right and it's like being kicked in the stomach at times. Knocks the wind out of you for a second and then aahhh, you can breathe again.

Everyone, take good care.
Thank you Dan. Please keep writing what you feel. Whether it is writing things like this or other topics which put you in the target of being demonized as Islamaphobic, you have written things that are important for people to hear, that need to be said. You say things that open you up to ridicule or being demonized... and it is very brave. I admire you and hope you continue.... xoxoxoxo
Thank you.
Lily @6: My dad broke my heart when I was a teenager (by ditching us and my mother), and spent three decades rebreaking it, then died suddenly. I can't say that I'd rather have Dad around to break my heart again. I'd love to have him around for an hour or so to tell him how he destroyed the emotional lives of his children, but all of us tried to make that point at various stages when he was still drawing breath, and he never gave a shit. I'd also love to have him around for as long as I could discern that he actually cared about his children or his grandchildren, but it's clear that he didn't--I honestly expected that he'd spend many, many years in our care after his second wife died. I was so grateful that my older brother gave his eulogy on behalf of his children, because after a couple of difficult days of contemplation, I decided I couldn't. Well, the holidays are a difficult time for all of us who have lost parents. When my mom died in Spokane, we drove over the pass and barely made it back. On returning, we got stuck at Hyak for three hours with her ashes in the car and the clock my grandfather made for her chiming.

Bless all of you who have lost parents at this difficult time. Or who have had to eat not delicious chocolate cookies but crappy Swedish fried things with anise seeds.
It may not get any easier, but it also gets less hard.

We never will 'get over' our losses, but we will find those losses have become
an important part of us.

It made me more empathetic. And I'm sure it has for you too.

Could you have made those cookies a year ago? I don't know, but I think the fact that
you made them this year means something.

Thank you for sharing your personal feelings with us all. Not everyone can do that.
@42 It all depends on the nature of your relationship with your parents and just what the circumstances of their deaths were. There are many circumstances in which the most profound emotion is relief that their suffering or abuse is over. On the other hand a divorce or betrayal by a spouse or SO can shatter your world. Every one is different as is the manner in which they experience loss.
I'm so sorry, Dan.

It does get woven into the fabric of your life, it becomes the New Normal, and no - it never goes away. It doesn't get better. Duller, maybe? Because the shock does fade, but never the loss. Not in the least.

Thank you for writing this. Lots of people at holidays living with the New Normal of loss need to hear it. And people who don't need to hear it for themselves need to hear it for the sake of those who do.
I'm sorry about the loss of your mother, Dan. She sounds like an amazing lady. You've done her proud.
I have a good friend (Who I was dating at the time, trust me, the story would make a very longwinded letter) who lost his mother on Christmas Day. Pretty much ruined the holiday for him. Only thing me and his partner could do was just hold him and watch silly movies. Airplane can take some of the hurt away.

Thank you for the personal story.
It is raw and remains raw . I lost mother in August 2008 after a long long illness (Altzheimmer's) and I was her care giver and she died in my arms . Her absence is felt each day of my life .Believe me I will for ever miss my mother's melomakarona (cinnamon flavored biscuits deeped in a honey sauce and garnished with nuts) and kourabiedes ( almond based biscuits). Yes I do have her recipe books but I will never measure up to her. Thank you Dan for sharing
Thanks for sharing, Dan. And keep making those cookies. It's little things like that that keep our loved ones with us even after they've gone. Your mom would probably love that you're doing it.

For me it's my grandma's cooking. I make the recipes like she taught me and a little part of her stays with me. Meanwhile, I'm so grateful for the 33 years I had with her...

I don't think there's any such thing as "getting over it" with the death of a loved one. We love and we feel pain and it's all horrible and beautiful. But it's so important to feel these things. Makes us human.
It never goes away. It's more like you find a place for it in your heart. And you just go on.
Thanks Dan.

I lost my grandmother...what...13 years ago and...yeah, the pain is still there and it doesn't go away.

It gets...different.

My brother actually got all of her recipes with the exception of the salmon croquettes recipe (which she coached me through over the phone). Thing is, that phone call where she gave me her salmon croquette recipe was also the last conversation that I had with her. And I can't fix the dish wihout thinking of how painful her last days were.
Beautiful...and true.

With me it's pie crust. My mom made the world's best pies (how good were they? This is the footstone we put on her grave, because we knew it's how everyone was going to remember her.) I actually only started trying to make my own after I realized I was never going to have another one of hers (she left an unbaked cherry pie in her deep freeze, and we baked it the afternoon after her funeral--that was the last). I eventually started tinkering with her recipe, trying my own tricks and gimmicks and new ingredients, when I came to the humbling realization that I was never going to make her simple flour/water/vinegar/egg/Crisco formula come out as exquisitely light and tender and flaky as she did. My pie crusts have gotten pretty damn good now, after nine years of practice. I would give just about anything to be able to bake her a pie and sit down and eat it together, one more time.

Enjoy the cookies, and the memories, Dan. Take care.
I would make you some "Grandma cookies" if I could bake at all. Mom makes them now, but they just aren't the same.
I read that entry on pharyngula several days ago, and it made me really thank that the people I care about are still alive, albeit not all of them are still around. I have had my share of heartaches, and it's true, the pain never does go away. The sorrow and anger will live on with you.

Thank you for sharing Dan. It takes a very brave person to let your guard down and share something so personal with the world.
Thank you for sharing this. The only thing I can say about my loss of a father two years ago was that grief was not what I expected it to be, and was in many ways surprising.

The hardest thing, oddly, was many people's reaction. I was pretty much given a week to feel a loss, and then expected to be past it. I was amazed that I would have been given more slack had I broken up with a boyfriend, rather than lost a parent. And yes, I was a grownup, and my father did not die young, but still. It took a year for me to return to a version of normal.
my mom left town on july 31st, on a trip with her friends for an r&b festival in cincinnati. they chartered a bus, drove up, checked into the hotel, and then loaded the bus for the concert arena. the bus parked three blocks away and they had to walk. my mom became short of breath upon arrival at the arena. my mom died of cadiac arrest before ever having heard a single note. on november 4th, i was fired from my job. on december 11th, my paternal grandmother died. on december 23, my landlord delivered an eviction notice. everything that happened after july 31st was made a thousand times worse by the fact that my mom is gone. it will always be that way. just as everything bad thing that's happened since my maternal grandmother died on easter in 2001 has been made worse by the fact that my grandmother is gone. the funny thing is - all the good stuff is tempered by the same things. that little cartoon brought it home - it will always be that way. it was that way for my mother, after her mother died. it was that way for my grandmother after her mother died. it has been that way for my father since his father died, and now his mother is gone too. and though he is 75 years old, and his mother was 93, it will always be that way for him too. we don't get over it, we just try to get through it and then go on. never the same. and it's never over. all the things that would prompt me to call her, they still do .. except that i remember, oh yeah, my mom is dead. it's like it keeps happening over and over again. i don't expect it to go away, but if it changes enough that she isn't dying every day, every time i have to remind myself that she's gone - that will help.
Thank you Dan, this made me tear up.
My Mom died on May 18, 1998. It's not gotten 'easier' at all, but it's further away. Last week, I tried so hard to recall her voice, and just couldn't! This hurts terribly, makes me feel frantic inside. Either my menopausal state is playing mean tricks on me, or Mom HAS gotten further away from me in her ongoing, next life. 2010 is just hours away. I often entertain the notion my Mom, Grandma and Great-Aunt-the Holy Trinity-whoop it up on New Year's Eve! I also bake up gazillions of my Mom's Christmas Cookie recipes. There's a history of memories in that particular festive baking, when doing so, I swear I feel her in the kitchen with me. Love it!!!! And love to you Dan!
That's exactly what all the other caterpillars used to say.
now I'm crying. thank you Dan for sharing. beautiful and true.
Thanks, Dan! My dad died in September very unexpectedly, and there are still many moments that take my breath away. The stories people post here help. My dad dealt with people in grief, so I know how to do this academically. I just didn't realize that there are moments where you literally cannot function and moments where your memories make the day so much brighter. Peace and love to you and yours.
Happy baking and sobbing Dan! I lost an old good friend days before Christmas, two years ago, in an accident and the grief hits, awkwardly enough, when I christmas shop. BUT, the sobbing feels great, and I can enjoy christmas after a good cry. When kids point too hard and long at me, the crying shopper, I wear my dark glasses and I've become very organised. All food and presents bought in under 4 hours total. Crank out the recipe sooner, not later and roll with the punches. Thanks to you and your mum.

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