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Grief

His wife was hit by a falling tree. Along with grief came anger, bewilderment.

Grief affects us all – but not in ways we always consider. People die, yes, but so do pets. We can grieve dreams, jobs, our health, past versions of ourselves. Grief is not linear; it does not come in stages, a common misconception. It's unique to the individual.

After embarking on a series to document different grief journeys, we asked for your input. What kinds of grief had you experienced? Would you be willing to share your story publicly?

With more than 120 responses and counting, here's a look at what some of you shared. You can submit your own story .

Bill Badgley, 72

Bill Badgley with Carol McEntee, his wife of 40 years, who died Dec. 2, 2022.

"(My wife) Carol was hit by a falling tree as she walked home. She was found by a neighbor. By the time I was notified and could get to the scene, she was in an ambulance but a pool of blood and the downed tree were still there. In the ambulance, the blood was soaking her pillow, but she opened her eyes when I spoke her name. The tree broke ribs and vertebrae and caused a traumatic brain injury. A piece of her skull was removed to allow for swelling of the brain. Carol lived for 11 weeks in the hospital where I went to be with her every day.

The day before she died, she fought to come back a last time and returned my kiss twice, the only time this happened in the 11 weeks. I wrote and delivered Carol’s memorial service. I needed to do it. I focused on four lessons that Carol had taught me, the most important being that love is the miracle. Our grave marker will say as much. Now that she’s gone, the trauma of the event and the hospitalization does not recede. I remain angry and bewildered about how this could happen. How I see nature and life has changed. I am incredibly lost without Carol. I am diminished and no longer whole. I have a small urn with some of her ashes. There are pictures of her on either side. There is a sculpture of a loon, Carol’s favorite bird. There are some shells that we collected together on Sanibel Island, including left and right angel wing shells. I greet Carol every morning. I speak to her before bed. 'I love you. I miss you. Please be with me when you can. Please wait for me.'"

Melissa Monroe, 54

"I was one of the increasing number of bereaved parents who experienced traumatic guilt, which is associated with heightened suicidal ideation," says Melissa Monroe, pictured here with her daughter Alice, now deceased.

"When a military friend pointed out that the paralyzing guilt I suffered after my 2-year-old daughter Alice died of Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC) was a product of PTSD, I dismissed him. 'I have not been to war! My symptoms do not deserve to be considered PTSD.' I argued. As an acupuncturist specializing in mental health, I was familiar with the signs. Still, I had not recognized them in myself until my friend’s patient insistence led me to consult the checklist. Then I realized he was right.

I was one of the increasing number of bereaved parents who experienced traumatic guilt, which is associated with heightened suicidal ideation. Trauma-related guilt commonly presents with both grief and PTSD but is less widely discussed than other symptoms. It can occur following any type of loss but is particularly predominant among bereaved parents."

In case you missed:My dog died two months ago. Pet loss causes deep grief that our society ignores.

Brooke Westlake, 42

"I was my grandma Bev's primary caretaker ... she had Alzheimer’s for 10 years … When she died it was just me and her. I was holding her. She took one breathe and left. It was like I watched her soul float away.

Her only child and son, and my biological father died three years later. His death was pretty horrific and heartbreaking. He had struggled with drug and alcohol addiction his entire life.

July of 2022, I helped my stepfather with end of life care. We got five lovely days together before he started the transition. I helped my mom with the process, because she had never been through the death process. And April of this year (2023), my grandpa Don, my father's dad, died. I was able to see him before he passed, but it was also overwhelming to know that was the last time we would see each other. I tried to stay positive the entire time, but broke down crying on and off. It’s been several years of grief stacked up on top of each other. Some days I’m grateful that the people I love are no longer suffering and then other days I just wish they were still here, so I could see them, hug them, laugh with them, cry with them, talk with them. All these wonderful people I have cherished and lost have all one thing in common. We all loved laughing together.

In 2024, I’m getting a very specific tattoo for each of them on their birthdays with their signature, from how they would sign cards or letters to me."

If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, dial 988 to reach someone with . They're available 24 hours a day and provide services in multiple languages.

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