Dan Stringer

navigating the convergence of faith, culture and the common good

Grief journal (2 months)

January 20, 2011

“When we gather now there’s always someone missing, his absence as present as our presence, his silence as loud as our speech.”

–Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son

Vincent died two months ago today. Seems like forever. Feels like yesterday. I think about him all the time, but not often enough. I hate crying, but I wish there were more tears. It’s tough to keep busy, and even harder not to.

I’m functioning far too well. I should be inconsolable. I’m not especially looking for clarity, wisdom or perspective right now. I’d rather be a full-time grouch, sour and abrasive. Why am I not more devastated and immobilized, angry and bitter? Is this all the sorrow I can muster?  We buried him seven weeks ago. He’s not coming back.

So how many kids do you have, Dan Stringer?

I have two. Well, actually I have one, I mean two, depending how you count…

And how are you holding up after the death of your 18-month-old son, Dan Stringer?

Well, at least my other child hasn’t kicked the bucket yet. And how are you doing this fine morning?

I don’t always want to talk about Vincent, but I do. I don’t want to change the subject, but I do. I don’t want things to “normalize,” but I do. I don’t want the pain to stop, but I do. I don’t care what people think or how they attempt to theologize it, but I do. I don’t want people to freak out, but I do– kind of.

Moving forward has it’s merits, but I’d really prefer to stay right here. For now. Until I change my mind. Or not.

How can you help? Hit me with your best proverb, but don’t say a thing. Leave me alone, but fix me while you’re at it. Feel my pain, but don’t let it hurt you. Know my story, but keep it a secret. Be horrified in a composed way, concerned without asking questions. Show that you miss Vincent, but don’t worry about me. Think of him often, but turn off the spotlight. Consider me different so long as I blend in. Handle me with kid gloves. Treat me like I’m unbreakable. Understand me well. Don’t figure me out.

I hope my contradictions irritate you terribly. I hope they don’t bother you at all.

Do I want this loss to define me? Do I want to be known apart from it?

[See also Vincent’s CaringBridge page. Photo by Luminosity.]

  • Grief is such a strange process. It is what it is. We observe ourselves going through it but we don’t control it.

  • Vincentsmom

    Exactly how I feel. Or not.

  • Mom

    It helps me when people are sad with me, and I get a chance to tell my story again to fresh ears. Like when I was w/ Charlene H. the other night. Having the time to tell her at length all the things we went through was somehow healing. Or having the chance to tell Dr. Nitta today–his church, Mililani Missionary, had been praying for us.

    In a different way, the rhythm and monotony of work is helpful. Some of the time. At other times, I can’t wait to go home. Today I was able to listen to a boy telling me how bad he feels that his grandma is dying of cancer, and how this makes him lash out at his friends for no good reason.

    Thanks for putting words to the waves of emotion I feel.

  • You’re a good man. Love you guys. Miss Little Vinnie. –Paul

  • Everyday I think how its one day closer until I’ll get to see Vincent again. That is my happy thought each day. …Thanks for putting into words what I feel but lack the ability to say. We all love him and will go on missing him even when life begins to look more normal.

  • Sandy Simpson

    Dan I do feel, for you guys very deeply even though I don’t know you I still feel the pain, of your loss. I have no advice except, that it doesn’t matter what you say, or how you say it, just go ahead, and feel, and keep saying. The peace, of Christ comfort you all as you grow through this period, and know I am still crying with you. Blessings, and Love Sis. Sandy Simpson Waverly NY.

  • Lisa

    I was just talking about the loss of Vincent again today. I never got to meet him but I am still cry just thinking about the loss of him. We do feel your pain and wish we could help you through it. I hope every day that you gain a bit of comfort when you are your saddest and know that all your friends are here for you. Your loss has changed us all because we feel the loss with you. Love to all of you.

  • Thanks everyone for your encouraging and supportive comments. I’m planning on doing a “grief journal” post each month around the 20th or so.

    • I’ll be reading it every month and appreciating how you put what you feel and also what we feel into words.

  • Cheryl

    This is a terribly moving post. I probably should have waited ’til I was at home to read it though….nothing like crying into your tomato soup at Panera Bread. You are brave and we love you.

    I think a grief journal is a great idea, but only as long as you don’t feel pressured or obligated to update it.

  • I wont pretend to understand what you are going through but I feel for you all so deeply. I miss Vincent and I never met him. I never met him but he made a difference in my life. He has made a difference and so there is hope that every little life is dire to this great big, crazy and sometimes painful world. I can survive my experience until I am taken to where Ron and Vincent are because of the way they lived. Every day (like mentioned above) brings me closer to salvation and I am grateful, so grateful for that. I think of oxygen cat often and am so grateful for the little things that made so much difference. thank you for sharing Dan.

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