Experiencing Grief, by John Ostrander

John Ostrander

John Ostrander started his career as a professional writer as a playwright. His best known effort, Bloody Bess, was directed by Stuart Gordon, and starred Dennis Franz, Joe Mantegna, William J. Norris, Meshach Taylor and Joe Mantegna. He has written some of the most important influential comic books of the past 25 years, including Batman, The Spectre, Manhunter, Firestorm, Hawkman, Suicide Squad, Wasteland, X-Men, and The Punisher, as well as Star Wars comics for Dark Horse. New episodes of his creator-owned series, GrimJack, which was first published by First Comics in the 1980s, appear every week on ComicMix.

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16 Responses

  1. Martha Thomases says:

    Beautiful essay, John. As near as I can tell, from witnessing such losses up close and personal (although not for myself), the memories of our loved ones remain as gifts. We are blessed to have them in our lives, and we will be blessed to keep them in our hearts. I can't walk past a street fair in the summer without remembering Kim's excitement at the prospect of patchwork vests.

  2. Rick Taylor says:

    Nice job.Having had (yet another) brush with loss recently I found myself back in the 80's feeling a lot things I thought I'd successfully 'pushed to the back' of my feelings and memories.After a few days of thinking about things I'd come to the conclusion that having the good stuff as a take-away and the bad stuff as a leave behind would be best way to remember things.Only took 20 years.

  3. Jon M says:

    My divorce was very similar, emotionally. Quite often, I found myself treating the situation like she HAD died. Some stages are very very difficult to get past. Hell, after eight years, it still hurts.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I am not married yet, but I am engaged. I feel as I need to pay more attention to her now and savor the time we have. You never know Do you?

  5. John says:

    This is the type of article that can be of help to someone when death and loss occurs. There are times that I am hit with the dread of the possibility of losing my wife because she is my life. Without her, I would have nothing and nobody. So reading this article helps me to see that the suffering has purpose, that there is another dawn after the night season, and that life, indeed, goes on. When Tony Snow died recently of cancer at only 53, leaving behind small children and a wife, you just have to say that sometimes God takes the best of us early and leaves the rest of us stinkers behind for a while, it seems.

    • John Ostrander says:

      I'm not sure that I agree with the last statement, John. (Good name, by the way.) Death comes to everyone, good and bad, young and old, rich and poor, and so on. We try to make sense out of it or out of the timing of it but I don't think there is one. Kim died too young but so have a lot of other people. My aunt is 101 and a very good person. Death is not a punishment, it's not a reward — it's just death. it's a part of life.May your wife live a long time and be as happy as she can. You, too. All the best —- John O

  6. Dave says:

    My daughter died 15 years ago. While I'm okay most of the time (I'll be with her again someday), there are days (Mother's Day, Father's Day and her birthday especially) that it still hits me like a truck. Life does go on, but I don't think I'll ever be beyond mourning her – and I'm not sure I want to, because maybe that will mean I've forgotten her.

    • Rick Taylor says:

      Dave,I am truly sorry to hear of your loss.Honestly, I don't think 'getting beyond' mourning someone ever happens. It wouldn't hurt if you didn't love your daughter that deeply. Sometimes I think love defines itself that way.Sometimes trying to focus on getting 'through' the experience is an important first step. My best friend died 12 years ago. His birthday was January 1st so you can bet there's not much partying in my house for the holidays. It's taken over a decade for me to learn how to get through that time of year and reconnect with the holidays.Our loved ones would not want us to live unhappy lives. Yet, sometimes it's difficult to be happy. Think of the how much richer your life's experience been because of your daughter.The black days can be tough but learning to manage them is tougher.Hang in there.

    • John Ostrander says:

      From what I've seen, I think it's harder losing a child than losing a spouse. My sympathies go out to you. You were robbed. You never got to know your child as an adult. That's not right.Good luck, man. All the best.

      • Mike Gold says:

        We're losing thousands of children — hundreds of thousands, if you can count past the Americans — in Iraq, for no good reason. Let's take a moment to respect their sacrifice, and that of their families and friends.

  7. Marc Alan Fishman says:

    Excellent piece John. I lost my grandparents while I was in college (back in 2000-2004). It was painful, but expected (my grandfather was ill, and I knew how codependant my grandmother was… not to be stark about, just saying…). But lately I've noticed my own mother, and how she's not over the loss. When you say that (if you let yourself) after the loss you heal, and become a new person at that point, that really made me think. My mother has truly changed since the loss of her parents. I've tried to help her when she'll let me, as it's all I can do. I hope in time (however long it takes) the healing can finish. I feel as if she's let herself heal to a point, and preserves just enough pain to bring it out in small places. I want her to heal, and reading this piece made me realize that I can only do so much. Alot of it will be up to her.Again, wonderful essay. I'll look forward to the next one.

    • John Ostrander says:

      Sometimes we hang on to the pain because we're afraid that, if we don't, we'll lose the one who has died. Really lose them. Forget what they looked like. Forget how they laughed. Maybe forget we loved them. We don't want to "lose" them and, perhaps, the only thing we have to make everything still vivid is the pain. I don't know. Maybe we think if we give up the pain, we've stopped loving them?What is key is what you said, I think, is that there is only so much YOU can do for your Mom. Maybe there is only so much she can do as well. Just love her. That's really all you can do. As you said, the rest is up to her.

  8. RD Francis says:

    The grieving process takes different amounts of time for different people.My in-laws were good friends with a couple (let's call them Rick and Kathy) where Kathy developed Alzheimer's. Rick took care of here throughout the illness, even when she got to the point where, mentally, she was like an infant. Less than a year after her death, Rick remarried. At first I thought "Wow, that was fast." – but I realized that his grieving process had probably started long before she died.Me, my wife passed away about 6 1/2 years ago now; while she had a variety of medical problems, this was definitely not expected. Since Rick remarried my in-laws have asked if I'm dating (they want me to, which really weirded me out the first time they said it) on several occasions.On the date she died, I always have a hard moment at some point. I have bad times probably once or twice elsewise throughout the year (specifically related to her and her memory).In some ways, I'm still struggling to let go. About six weeks ago I went to a singles activity at my church, which is the first time I've expressly done anything where I'd expect to potentially meet someone to date (all of my friends are married).John, thanks for talking about this (I think i've said this before, but I don't mind repeating myself). It's a definite help to others.

  9. Rob says:

    That was the most touching and beautiful thing I've read in some time. Thank you.