We’re All Sailors on the Sea of Grief

Carrie Thompson
9 min readApr 23, 2020

2019 will go down in my personal history book as arguably the Worst Year of My Life. We lost our son Ben, age 23, to suicide, on July 27th. That night will forever live in infamy for me as the night when I lost a piece of myself, my heart, my inner light, and I was cast adrift on a seemingly endless Sea of Grief.

I lost the contentment and satisfaction of our shared interests, of late night philosophizing and passionate discussions on topics like mental health, empathy, and caring for others. I lost future joys, hopes, and dreams — both my own and my beloved son’s — of years that were to come, of watching him change the world. I am left clinging like a drowning woman to the driftwood of memories and mementos of joys and experiences from years past.

Then I lost any expectation, if I ever had one, of any sort of cosmic fairness when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Life suddenly included not just the waves of grief that still rippled through my soul, but also the stress of uncertain weather with tests and doctor visits and consultations as we tried to learn the extent of his disease and what that meant for our future.

When my job became a source of extraordinary stress instead of a lifeline, I felt compelled to take a leave of absence. That felt a lot like another loss, another current sweeping me further from any safe harbor.

When my husband was told that he would lose his job in March, I found myself looking skyward, or inward, or any-ward, looking for an answer as to why my carefully-constructed world was falling apart and wondering what unseen force was at work in this uncharted water.

Then, 2020 said “hold my beer.” It’s only April, and this one is already going down in the history books as A Terrible Year, not just for the Thompson clan, but for the world. We’re in the midst of a pandemic. The microscopic COVID-19 virus is now a worldwide outbreak that has landed thousands of people in the ICU, on ventilators, struggling to survive, and has killed thousands more than that, and as a bonus feature has halted all manner of normal existence and destroyed livelihoods and economies across the globe. That’s some seriously scary stuff, am-I-right?

2020 will also go down as the year that most of the world came to know, on a personal…

Carrie Thompson

A mother, a wife, a high school English teacher, and a suicide loss survivor on a quest for understanding and healing.