jump to navigation

The Clouds Lifted April 10, 2013

Posted by johnbohlinger in Uncategorized.


A few months after my son left this world, I was at work, imitating a normal person, trying to summon all my power to keep doggedly going on with life but not sure why; (I guess out of a sense of obligation or the inertia that makes us continue our slow march toward death). A guy I didn’t know approached me during a break and said, “Hey, John, I know what you’ve been through. I lost my child years ago.  I’m telling you, life does get better.”   I immediately wanted to beat the shit out this guy.  How dare he feed me this nonsense. He didn’t know my incredible son; if he did he would have understood that the world would never be right with out August in it.   I stared at him for an uncomfortably long 20 seconds then grumbled some platitude like “thank you, I appreciate your concern” and walked away.  This guy was trying to help but I was so blinded by grief I could not imagine being happy in a world without my son.  Time may heal all wounds, but I did not think I could tough it out long enough for time to work its magic.  Now I know this guy was right and I’m so glad I did not attack the messenger; it does get better. 


I’m six years into this life without my son and at this point I’ve been:


Borderline catatonic













Sometimes happy-ish

Generally happy


I quit writing this grief blog about a year ago because I felt dishonest, like a faith healer with gout and a bad wig.  I couldn’t encourage others to rebuild their shattered life while I simultaneously plotted and/or prayed for my own demise.   Depression was debilitating.


People often misuse the term depression; they think of it as sadness with and exclamation point after it.  “I have to work late tonight, I’m so depressed.”  “They canceled  30 Rock, how depressing.”  Life is full of minor set back, trivial inconveniences, frustration and sad moments, but that’s a long way from full on depression.  Comparing sadness to depression is like comparing a bad cold to cancer.

I know I’ve written this before, but damn-it, I mean it:  work toward happiness and eventually it will get better.  It might take years of medication,  meditation,  daily prayer, regular exercise,  a healthy diet,  getting more sleep, many walks in the woods, travel, philanthropy, yoga, countless hours of comedy, listening to great music, eating ice cream, sex, going to work, skipping work, petting your dog,  getting lost in a great book, seeing old friends, making new friends, being alone, being with the people you love…all that stuff that makes life beautiful.

 Although depression came on all at once,  it’s a slow,  gradual trip back to normal. After years of faking it, I feared that I may always be depressed.  Now I can honestly say that after some subtle and major breakthroughs, the clouds have for the most part lifted.  I still get sad, fight depression at times and have to force myself to look for the beautiful in life while trying not to torture my self with regret.   But, I can now see my way out. Before everything had a dark cloud over it.  Now the clouds come and go, but I’m still here and finally glad for it.  It does get better.



1. Lynn Remmelgas - April 11, 2013

John, thank you for that. I am trying really hard to believe you. Truly. I want to. It has been 10 months since I lost my beautiful Shawn and I know exactly what depression feels like. I also know the thoughts of really not caring if I live or die and have felt some of the deepest darkest moments of despair that any one could imagine. I am sure that if not for my 3 other children I would not be here today. Yet, here I am. Living. Some days I actually do live now too. Not whole days mind you, but I have seen glimpses of hope that something is passing just a little, I have kept my mind so completely occupied I have no time to think. That is the only way I know how to survive at the moment. My children are so brave also and soldier on through their own terrible grief and despair. I am very scared however of the approaching anniversary of his death. It is a milestone that I have not crossed yet. Or mothers day. Those both scare me very much because when that darkness covers me, it almost smothers me and I fear one day, I will not emerge from the darkness and it will swallow me up. I have no one here to help me and pull me out of it so that makes it even scarier. What if I cannot keep going? What then? What will my children do? You John, have given me some hope that if I can just continue to put one foot in front of the other, maybe one day it will get easier and I can find happiness. I doubt it. Happiness is foreign to me now. Even when I laugh, I then feel a little guilty, like somehow it has distanced me from my son and my pain. The other thing I want to thank you for is because of this site, I found a wonderful friend. She too is in our reluctant club. The dreaded group that no one would ever choose to join. But here we are. In it together. A group that gets it. Really gets it. Not like those that say Oh I can imagine how you feel. Oh I know because I once met a women who lost her child too. NO THEY DON”T GET IT! And they never will. We are aliens here on Earth now. And for me, I am just trying to find a way to fit in with my disguise so they won’t recognize me for the shell I am now. I search for ways to feel whole again. But the old me has gone forever. Thank you for giving me a place to write this where I feel it will not be misunderstood. And thanks for the little glimmer of hope that my small moments without anguish will grow to bigger ones, and that there is a possibility that I will find a life I can be content with and maybe one day feel happiness once again. Take Care.

johnbohlinger - April 11, 2013

“We are aliens here on Earth now. And for me, I am just trying to find a way to fit in with my disguise so they won’t recognize me for the shell I am now.” That’s it. I totally felt that way, and regrettably still do at times, (like when people start talking about there kids). 10 months is brutal. But, the time leading up to the anniversary will probably be worse then the anniversary itself. We obsess about the impending date and worry about pain and how we will react to it, like condemned criminals awaiting their execution. Try to focus on how wonderful your time with Shawn was and how lucky you were to have been with him. It will be sad, but there’s going to be happy memories you can embrace.

Thank you Lynn, God bless you


2. rushchick - April 18, 2013

Hey John….Been awhile. I can totally relate to your post, I am going through this depression….it hasn’t been this bad in awhile. I have closed myself off to everyone, I am neither happy nor sad….just numb. I wake up in the mornings and my first thought is “damn I woke up, another morning and day to deal with” I have been like this for about 6 months. I am not seeing a doctor, I do not want to leave my house to see a doctor. I have been seeing the accident over and over in my head. I just want some sort of relief. I don’t even know what I’m typing here or if you can even understand what I’m trying to say. It has also been 6 years since Lizzy died. I just don’t even know anymore….Hugs to you…

johnbohlinger - April 18, 2013

It sounds like you are deep in it. Consider a Dr. I hated the whole antidepressant bit, but if you are so down you can’t see out, it maybe worth it. It comes and goes but sometimes we need a chemical re-set.

God bless you


3. grahamforeverinmyheart - May 9, 2013

John, I’m glad that you have started to feel better and that you shared that with your readers. In 2 weeks it will be the first anniversary of my son’s death and I’m a mess. EVERYTHING is a reminder of his absence. It’s overwhelming. It helps to know that it is possible to keep going and I look forward to a time when the pain will not be so intense.

4. Neelie Sutton - May 12, 2013

Thank you John for writing this blog. I lost my son, Joshua 15 months ago and I have no idea how to do this. A lot of what you have written about is how I have been feeling and it helps to know that I am not alone. I am so sorry that you are a part of this “club” but I am thankful that you are writing about your journey.

johnbohlinger - May 15, 2013

Hi Neelie, I’m sorry for your loss. I don’t know how we do this either, other than look for the good in life, be thankful for what you have, take care of yourself and live. I was a mess at 15 months, but it gets better.
God bless you,


5. Kathryn Garcia - June 9, 2013

My only Dear John letter, ever….and I do mean it. I am a friend of Sherrie. The one you drove home in a drunken stupor. The night I lost my slipper and had my most embarrassing moments without know ing! I only today, while searching for Sherrie online, discovered of August’s life. I am in a twist of heartache. The service was down my street. I didn’t know. I didn’t know. I didn’t know.
Kathryn Garcia, artist you know. Hearts broken. void. deep void.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: