Still Gone

19 Apr

“It doesn’t matter how much I heal or how much emotional processing I go through or how much I pray or go to therapy, whatever, he’s still gone.” Said the young man whose older brother died eight years ago. 

I can relate to those words on so many levels. They’re pretty straightforward, but I’ve found myself meditating on them. In some corner of my mind I recognize there is a nuance that is not so straightforward but is profoundly important. 

And here it is hiding within these three words, “. . . he’s still gone.”

“He’s still gone.” 

I have spent the last three years processing my emotions in the aftermath of the collision that killed two of my daughters. Those losses piggybacked onto the loss of my son almost 25 years ago. And then they were interwoven with the knowledge that my 21 year old daughter, my only surviving child, was born with a rare genetic degenerative neuromuscular disease. Believe me when I say that I’ve processed emotions. 


I’ve prayed. Prayers of anger and despair. Questing prayers. Begging entreaties. Oh yes, I’ve prayed.

I’ve even tried trauma therapy and grief counseling.

I’ve tried finding meaning in some global purpose. Painted on a positive outlook. Whatever.

And they’re still gone.

Do we somehow, unconsciously assume that emotional processing, therapy, and prayer will change that unacceptable truth? Do we think it will fill the gaping holes left in our hearts when our children die? Do we think that grieving will make the loss of our loved ones okay in time? 

And maybe that’s why “they’re still gone” echoes so hollowly through my heart and mind. Maybe I am living with the unrealistic expectation that at some point “they’re still gone” won’t hurt anymore. Is that the goal of grieving?

What expectation should I have? What will healing look like? Feel like? Is it even possible? And maybe that’s why his words, “he’s still gone” communicate a straightforward fact but if you really let them sink into your soul they communicate so much more. Resignation, sorrow, despair, and feelings far to deep to articulate. 

He’s still gone.

She’s still gone.

They’re still gone.

And maybe that’s why I’m stuck. Why I can’t move forward or get better – whatever it is that society expects of me.

No matter what I do, my personal reality is that they’re still gone. Until the end of my days they will be missing from me. Maybe there are some wounds that sink so deep into an individual that they can never be healed this side of heaven. And unless I make peace with the immeasurable worth of an eternal future (not just acknowledge it-not just understand it-not just hope for it) and even if I do make peace with eternity, the wounds I have sustained will never fully heal. They will always hurt because they’re still gone. 

Never will I be whole again. 

Never will it stop hurting. 

Never will I be okay with their absence. 

Still gone.

Still gone.

Still gone.

It echoes and echoes and echoes through me. Those words hold an unquantifiable depth of meaning and they leave my heart torn and bleeding.

Still gone.


Posted by on April 19, 2017 in Grief


Tags: , ,

11 responses to “Still Gone

  1. Darcy

    April 20, 2017 at 12:21 am

    It is interesting that you posted this today. The one year anniversary of my son’s death was two days ago. In the last two days I have felt that I was back to square one in my grieving process, and the overwhelming thought that keeps circling in my head is “this is forever”. I don’t know how to do forever now.


    • Janet Boxx

      April 20, 2017 at 12:32 am


      I’m so sorry for the loss of your son. That “this is forever” thought just echoes through the second year. It’s like we finally realize that we will not wake up and find this is the worst nightmare ever. You are not alone!

      As for how we do forever? We all do it one day at a time – sometimes one hour at a time – sometimes one minute at a time. We just do it angrily, fearfully, or with resignation. Again and again. We are the legacy bearers.


  2. Melanie

    April 20, 2017 at 5:29 am

    I am sorry that we both share this pain Janet, but so very thankful that you are willing to write about it transparently and with authenticity. One of the most difficult things for me to bear as I am adding yeasrs (!) of survival is a sense that somehow I really should be “better”. And if “better” means better able to function, better able to push down tears, better able to look and act as if the reality of Dominic’s missing is a smaller part of my life now than it was when it first happened, then I’d get at least a passing grade.

    But “still gone” echoes through my heart dozens of times a day. If I listen to the hollow ping of it I am physically ill all over again. I am brought (at least mentally/emotionally/spiritually) to my knees again, screaming, “How can this possibly be???”

    Again and again. Yes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dana

    April 20, 2017 at 6:19 am

    Exactly right.


  4. Cindy Bell-Parsley

    April 20, 2017 at 6:39 am

    Marks nine months today, I lost my 21 year old son to suicide. He took his life July 20th 2016; he would have been 22 on July 27th 2016. My heart breaks; the ache never goes away…


  5. Nancy

    April 20, 2017 at 7:02 am

    Yes. Healing in the world’s or the dictionary’s definition is not possible. Healing is living with the knowledge that they are still gone and will always be gone. It is hard. It hurts and always will. Thank you for voicing this, Janet.


  6. rogerholmack

    April 20, 2017 at 11:21 am

    Yup! My daughter is still gone. I’m perplexed by many a things since I started grieving. I messed up my knee many years ago. It still hurts at times and I still walk with a limp. Everyone understands that that the injury was bad and full recovery is impossible. Why is it so hard for them not understand my grief? The wound is so much worse. I would guess that the emotional wound is not understood like the physical wound.

    To answer one of your questions, the purpose of grieving is to morn, not to heal. That’s what I’ve concluded.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. joanmariewriting41457

    April 20, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    …still gone…
    …waiting for them to return home for the evening and they never arrive…
    “He will not come to me but I shall go to him” King David said of the son he lost – born to him by Bathsheba… I think long and hard some times – always with tears… and realize that it will be but a ‘moment of eternity’ for them – that they were actually apart from us – but for us who are still held in earth’s frame of time – our moments are stretched out through our lifetime. Still gone…missing from me…but being held in love for a reunion of the sweetest kind in Glory forever ❤️ I truly have never been this Homesick before…

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Kim Nolywaika

    April 21, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    I am constantly aware of my complete inability, at this point in the grieving process, to move away from “still gone” and to become fully engaged in the anticipation of resurrection/reunion and Heaven. I want so much to operate within the reality of what lies ahead, to feel like a little kid the week before Christmas, just bursting with “I can’t wait it’s almost here.” But, no. Instead I actively engage in “still gone” thinking every single hour of the day. I know this is understandable and normal. But I so wish my relationship with the Lord was deep enough to eclipse this pain. That is probably not realistic, but I can’t help feeling I am failing my Lord when I let those words “still gone” ring through my head more than “Praise God, the time is short, then eternity.” I feel I am being less than thankful for what God has ordained in his wisdom and I hate that. I feel like I am fighting Him, that if truly believed what I truly believe, I would hurt less and glorify Him more. By faith, I accept his decrees with my head and praise him because I KNOW when I get to the other side of this I will be blown away by the wonder of his plan. But my heart still hurts. Still gone…


  9. victoriawhyte

    March 31, 2018 at 8:03 am

    “It doesn’t matter how much I heal or how much emotional processing I go through or how much I pray or go to therapy, whatever, he’s still gone.” Said the young man whose older brother died eight years ago.
    That sounds quite accurate to me 😢

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nancy

      March 31, 2018 at 3:16 pm

      Very true. Thank you for putting it into words. The only healing, comfort we will have is when it is finally our turn to go to heaven to be with Jesus and our child.

      Liked by 1 person


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