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Sudden Loss: A Trip Through Hell And Out Again

by Marygen

On November 23, 1998 I came home from work to find that my fiancee' had fallen to his death from the roof of our boat barn.

When I drove in our driveway I noticed that his car was there, but that he was not hard at work on the roof as he said he would be. The house looked dark, but I still assumed he was inside. The house was empty. I checked the kitchen table for a note and did not find one, then went and checked the answering machine. I thought his brother may have picked him up as he had called that morning to ask for Jon's help with a project. But, there was a message from the brother requesting a call back whenever Jon got in.

As I stood listening to his brother's voice on the machine I suddenly thought to myself, What if he's fallen off the roof? I ran downstairs, shoved my feet in my boots and ran across the yard. There he was. I had walked RIGHT BY HIM when I went to the house...The eyes don't see what the mind cannot fathom. He was lying in a pool of blood with his head smashed in. I knelt and put my hand on his arm to make sure he was dead - I KNEW he was dead - then I looked into his face to make sure he was dead - I KNEW he was dead. I kept saying, "Oh, God, I can't do this. Please don't make me do this. Please let this be a dream, because I can't do this." Then I ran to the house and called 911.

My grief was all consuming. I could not function at all for about 6 weeks. I had trouble remembering how to write numbers, I would walk around with my boots on the wrong feet. I lost all faith in the order and decency of the world. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I hallucinated dead bodies. Everything looked ominous to me. I became afraid of my propane dryer, the funny smell in my car, things I had never thought twice about before.

It was a good five months before the shock wore off. And I had many more months of despair before the one year anniversary.

Little by little, with the help of my friends and wonderful community, I began to heal. There are still times when the darkness of my sorrow is all I can see, but there are times of joy, as well. I have become an in-home volunteer for Hospice, work as a bereavement companion, write a monthly column about death, dying and grief for our local newspaper, and am trying to write a manuscript length story about my experience.

I still miss my sweetie every day, but know that he is with me always. I honor him by honoring myself and by finding happiness on this rich and complicated journey that is my life now that he is gone.


I am a professional chef and aspiring writer who lives and works in a tiny community in the Alaskan bush.