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How Death Changes Everything - Real Life Poem about Death of my Nephew

Less than a month

A month away from a year

A dark anniversary

A year of shock

And stifling grief.

Time lost, surreal

With daily reminders

And the thick void

That suffocates--

And life just goes on.

Have to keep moving

And we do

Sure we have

We all DO

But it’s coming back—


Mikael's Door to Heaven

This picture was taken the day after my nephew was taken to Heaven. This photo is the door that God shared with us to show where our boy passed through.The picture was taken from the spot where he left this world. A beautiful sign.

This picture was taken the day after my nephew was taken to Heaven. This photo is the door that God shared with us to show where our boy passed through.The picture was taken from the spot where he left this world. A beautiful sign.

Oh, God, no--

Clock-stopping moments

Of the past resurface.

A blurry phone call,

A dog—a little boy led away.

Rushing in—panic—

Cries, screams,

And too much water.

Why, why, why?

How could it be?


And just like that

Lifted cruelly away

Looking to the sky

In controlled anger

But asking why.

What kind of goodbye--

And how do we?

Watching it happen--

Family and hugs

But little comfort.

I have lost before—

Friendships, loves—

With no explanation

Just gone, unseen

No closure, no answers.

But now I know

It is not like a death

Though I thought it was

No matter how painful

The everyday loss.


The Video Family Shared with Us

The questions and wonder--

It can’t compare

With the sudden end

The sharp cut of death

Unexpected and untimely.

Nothing again feels the same.

Nothing comes without questions.

Nothing is secure or sacred.

Nothing looks like before.

Nothing is safe—ever.

Everyone looks different.

Former joys hold little.

Trust is broken,

Daily life colorless

And all for naught.

Only the hope of beyond

And the long look above

Keep us going

And longing for

The unanswered prayer for peace...


About "Death Changes Everything"

On August 17, 2009, my three year old nephew drowned in shallow water—a freak accident that left his family in shock. I had experienced deep and dreadful losses before—best friends, loves--that just disappeared from my life without my permission. While these losses haunted me and held onto me—and sometimes still do--and in ways were likened to the death of the person, they couldn’t match how the blow of death forever changes people. I wasn’t even as close to my nephew as to my nieces, who live nearby, but the wounds from his death and the pain of my family run deep. And there are the images –the ones I didn’t see but heard about—that course through my head in horror. And the images I did see—the reactions at the service…and I don’t want to think about it.

Looking around, seeing the world go on as before, as if nothing had happened, hits hard (and seems wrong to) the person who is grieving. And it is true that nothing looks or feels the same. People all around are laughing and talking, and even when you catch yourself doing it yourself, there’s the guilt of it. Here’s a poem I wrote three months after it happened, just to give an example.

November 17th: A Poem

November 17th

3 months

And I am out with friends

He’s gone—

3 months

And we’re laughing

3 months

Just like yesterday

3 months

Seems so long ago

3 months

And tonight I am laughing.

And now?

And now, over two years later, I am not the same. And I will never be the same. The world is no longer secure. Our family is constantly in danger in my mind. I worry more.

And I’m not ready to show his picture here, because I’m not sure that’s right at this point. I don’t know what to do about that. For now, I'll share the cloud that God seemed to share with us. Maybe one day I’ll share my nephew with the world.

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