Author Topic: Say the name and honor loved one lost  (Read 2322 times)


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Say the name and honor loved one lost
« on: February 09, 2007, 08:01:37 AM »
My friend wrote this column for my son Tyler and another young man Justin(18)

Tyler Nicholas Trujillo September 4, 1984-February 16, 2003

Say the name and honor loved one lost
Natalie Costanza-Chavez
[email protected]

You think it down for weeks - the day is coming - this you know. It happened a year ago, or 10, or more, and the date has come around this year, again.

It gains strength in your body, fueled by the "same's" from that year: same light as the sun sets down in the evening, same shadows low from the next-door tree, same smell of tar, or roses, or oranges, or lilies.

You hadn't realized you remembered so many of the smells until now.

When a person you love dies, you are shoved into action, pushed into planning, swirling in a cyclone of to-do's. You are in shock, but the most mundane of details set up in you, like plaster in a mold; they form and remain. Without knowing, you take in the oddest things - meaningful and not meaningful - like leftovers.

A year later, or the year after that, or the next, you make the connections: the Halloween decorations just coming out of the box, air turning gun-metal cold, no snow yet. You remember the smell of hollowed out pumpkins, the seeds roasting on a pan.

Or, you walk into a grocery store and see the tubs of flowers, hip high, and preening. You flash to the funeral, and the purple and yellow irises tall and beautiful like long necked women. They bloomed in vases, in bunches, in sprays.

Other things seep in - the neighbors change their flag for spring, the grocery stores carry heart-candy, the snow turns to slush and, you remember rose hips on the mailbox bush, looking candied and hard, hanging on through winds and ice. You remember you saw them that year right before the one you loved died.

Death anniversaries come, every year, and again the next.

You can try to let it sneak past, or prepare the best you can. But, the morning comes and you wake differently, keenly aware of just what is missing, just what is gone, just what you went through, and just how it's changed everything. Your world is "before" and "after."

My grandmother buried her husband - my grandfather - just months before I'd planned to marry. When the wedding day arrived, she set her jeweled pin on her coat, straightened the seams in her stockings, and set about attending the first family celebration she'd ever gone to without him. I remember introducing her, singularly, to people she didn't know.

When someone you love has died, there is a newness to face everyday - something you hadn't thought of, some indignity, something suddenly amiss, again and again. It clobbers you.

She'd chat, then peer behind them and say, "Where are your people? Are they here with you?"

I thought her so brave. Her most important person, for the first time, did not stand beside her. Her new acquaintances took toll of her as singular. Then she told them about Rocco - her only love, and how he had just passed.

How could she not tell them? Our people are still our people - even if they've died.

Acknowledgement doesn't prolong or compound pain. It names it and honors it.

So, for the rest of us, moving up to the elbow of one left after a loss, what do we say?

Should we mention it? Yes.

Should you say the name of the person who died? Yes.

You are not reminding the newly grieving or long grieving of something, because they have not forgotten anything. When you speak the name of their dead you are simply honoring the life, the past, the history, the love. You are saying, "I remember your person lived."

Imagine how it would feel to suddenly be surrounded by people afraid to speak the name of your son, your husband, your daughter, your father, your wife because they are afraid they'll upset you.

How you'd long for the sound of that name.

Speak to the grieving. Name their people.

If you find yourself tongue tied and horrified at the thought of uttering the wrong thing, say, "I don't know what to say."

Say, "I don't have the words."

Say, "I hope I don't do this wrong."

Say, "I miss them, too."

But, say something. Speak to loss with the sound of a name missed, a name loved, a name that is still, and will always be, someone's light.

Natalie Costanza-Chavez is a writer and poet living in Fort Collins. Her column appears every Sunday in Life. Send e-mail to [email protected].


Karen Paul

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Re: Say the name and honor loved one lost
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2007, 08:09:52 AM »
That is very good.. very wise... very much needed, in every paper in the country I think... thank you so much for sharing it with us.

hugs, Karen