Child Loss,  Self-Care after child loss,  Symptoms of grief

I Lost My Car Keys Again! Can This Really Be Grief?

Since my son Mike died, I’ve lost my car keys at least a hundred times!  Slumping down and bursting into tears I decided to call it a day at 5:30 p.m.  I was exhausted.  I couldn’t think straight.  I was frustrated because I lost my keys again only to find them sitting on a box in my garage.  My life is messy because I seem to have lost the ability to organize even something as simple as what I should wear to work in the morning.  As I walked to my bedroom with tears streaming down my face, I knew what was going on.  I was so upset, so sad, and so broken.  I wasn’t able to think straight because I only had one thing on my mind.  My son died, and he died far, far too soon.

My chest hurt with every breath I took.  Every time my heart beat, I cried louder, “Why?  Why did he have to die so soon?” 

A thousand whys swirled through my head.  All of those things I wish you had said and didn’t.  The countless times I said things and they came out all wrong.  The many times I wish I had picked up the phone and called but used the excuse I was too busy or it was too late at night.

Our thoughts can be so hurtful.   

My tears continued for several hours until my head pounded so bad that I knew I had to stop.  A cold washcloth across my eyes, two Tylenol inside of me, comforting music playing, and I still couldn’t relax.

The grief was still there, and it was gripping me tight.

Why was my grief so bad this particular day?  It wasn’t an anniversary date.  I had slept okay the night before.  I’ve misplaced my car keys plenty of times lately and I never was reduced to hours of tears.  What happened?

And, then it hit me.  The words said to me weren’t meant to be harsh, but they cut me to the core.  And, the words filled me with so much fear that as I remembered them my entire body began to shake.

I had been sharing a meal with friends, when one of them said, “What’s that on your wrist?  Is that a tattoo?”

“Yes.  I got it on Mike’s birthday.  I designed it myself.  It has a heart, and……”

The man interrupted, “Is that a REAL tattoo?  Like the kind that stays with you forever?”

“Yes.  I wanted it right here where I can easily see it to remind me of Mike.”

“What is wrong with you?  You’re too old for a tattoo! And, what are you going to do when another one of your kids dies?  Get another tattoo?”

My face felt flush, and I had that awful feeling you get when your blood pressure gets too high.  Words were rising from deep within my heart — not nice words.  I wanted to lash out!  What did he know?  He’d never had a child die!  How dare he criticize me for doing something that gave me a small bit of comfort!”

My temples were throbbing.  I spoke no words.  Instead I just looked down and finished my pie and said I had to excuse myself to go back to work.

The rest of the afternoon was a disaster.  I couldn’t think.  I wasn’t productive.  I felt sick.  And, every time I looked at the tattoo on my wrist I wanted to cry.

I don’t have a body of “ink”, but I did want something permanent to look at to remind me of my son who had his life end far, far too soon.

My friend’s untimely words were a good reminder to me that we need to be respectful, tolerant, and supportive of those who are grieving the loss of a child.  What works for one, doesn’t always work for another.  In my case, I did what was good for me — I wanted to see my son’s name every day from now until the moment I die.  That was my choice.

Not one of us will ever grieve in the same way.  How grief manifests itself will be different for each one, too. 

And, let’s remember to be tolerant of those grieving who might seem to be living in a foggy state unable to focus and being very forgetful at times.  That’s all part of grief.  It’s scary to the one going through it.  Pitch in.  Help out. And, never make fun!

Yes, people in deep grief forget things.  They misplace things.  They can’t remember from one minute to the next.  Their minds are foggy for a long time following the loss of their child.  Why?  Because they’ve been through a terrible trauma and now the grief from that trauma has engulfed them.

Parents, grandparents, siblings, and family members grieving the loss of a child need support.  They need lots and lots of support to help them through the rough spots!

Today was a goof day for me.  The sun was shining and I really believe that helps — at least that helps me.  I still have my tattoo, and I always will.

And, guess what? I only misplaced my keys one time today!  Yes, it was a very good day compared to some, and I am thankful.


Clara Hinton

*If you are experiencing forgetfulness, cloudiness of mind, and you feel like you’re living in a fog, then you will want to get the book Child Loss: The Heartbreak and the Hope.  The words in this book will gently guide you through the most difficult parts of grief into a more gentle place of hope.

PS  If you find this blog helpful to you, please be sure to subscribe to this blog by typing in your email address so that you won’t miss another post.  Thank you so much!



  • Karen

    I have had 3 speeding tickets since Daniel died 18 months ago– not reckless high speed as such, just over the allowed speed limit. Before he died I had never had a speeding ticket in my life. I don’t know WHAT to do with my life now. I was “still doing” stuff for Dan when he had his accident. I wasn’t ready to stop being a Mama to him and it is like I have unfinshed business. I am home alone most days except for when DH comes home from the farm for a meal and I do not know what to do with me now he is no longer here. I see our daughter and grandie once a week but the rest of the time stretches out– you know, lonely and not knowing how to be or feel

    • Clara Hinton

      Karen, Oh, how I can relate to what you’re saying! Our minds are preoccupied with one thing, and one thing only — our child. And, during that period of time when the grief is so overwhelming, our minds just don’t function like they used to. I cannot seem to concentrate for more than 15 minutes at a time, and this is a big change for me. I leave tasks unfinished. I’m forgetful. All symptoms of grief. Those of us who have lost a child feel just as you’ve said it so well, “I wasn’t ready to stop being a Mama to my child. It’s like we have unfinished business.” Thank you so much for your comment. My love to you. This is a long, difficult journey that we need to take one step, one day at a time.

      • Bonnie Wallace

        Clara, My name is Bonnie, My daughter passed away jan. 26,2016. She was bipolar. I think she killed her self. I am 63 yrs. old. A nurse for 27 years. I got on Face book, the other night and there you were. I was astounded by what you were saying. You were so right on , about everything I have tried to tell friends. Every thing I have felt. I have done a lot of posts on FB, about my Daughter, And my feelings. I would like you to read them. I would love to get to no you. It has been on my heart to start a grief page, especially evolveing, Mental illness,and all the deaths due to heroine overdose. I will be purchasing your book. There are a lot of lives loss to drug overdose. It is actually an epidemic.Yours Deeply, Bonnie Wallace Clara, I also have a tattoo, on my left wrist. It says’Malissa with a small heart.

    • Dawn

      Karen, I was not done being Tyler’s mom either. He died on Feb. 8, 2016,just 7 days after his 24th birthday. I have been in a kind of fog since then. I was with my son during his ambulance ride to the hospital as well as being there when the decision had to be made if we (his brother and I) wanted Tyler on life support. This was not supposed to happen. I am a broken shell of a person now.

  • Sally

    That “friend” should be removed from your lunch schedule and any other social interaction. What an a**! Get as many tattoos in as many places as you feel the need. There is no age limit to tattooing and no limit to the length of time we need to grieve.

    • Clara Hinton

      Sally, I’m okay. I really am. Some people, including many of our own friends, just don’t understand how grief works. I just passed it off as an uneducated comment (after crying for hours). I’m so glad I went forward and got the tattoo. It holds a world of meaning to me, and that’s what counts. Thank you so much for your love and support.

      • Trudy

        I wonder where he thinks the tattoos go as the young people age and does he think the more you have the younger you remain.

  • Sandra Bowden

    Hi Clara,
    Thank you for putting me at ease (a little anyway) my son died two years ago March 29th…I forget simple things everyday & misplace things, am so forgetful at times that it drives me crazy! Your post has validated my exact same feelings, even though each & everyone of us grieve differently, we are Mother’s that gave birth to our son’s/daughter’s! Oh why did this happen to us, it’s changed our whole lives! Friends that I thought would be there for me aren’t & the ones that were are the ones I never would have thought would be there, ironic I say! I feel I am hard on people because if I wasn’t the one that lost my so , it was someone I knew, I don’t really know how I’d react either…in saying that, now if (God forbid) one of my friends or aquaintainces went through losing their child now…I would try my hardest to help them through this heart wrenching time as mich as I could…I really would! Thank you so much for reaching out with your sad loss from Mum to Mum xxx❤️

    • Clara Hinton

      Sandra, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your son. Our minds are cloudy and we live in a fog following the loss of a child. I used to wonder what was happening to me, too, but I know it’s because all we’re thinking about is our loss — day and night. Even when we’re not aware, the ache of loss is there in our subconscious. I know that you would be a loyal friend to someone who lost a child because you know what that pain feels like. Please take care, and stop back here often. My love to you!

  • Robbie Nelson

    Clara I want to thank you so much for your posts. I purchased your latest book and found out that EVERYTHING I’ve been going thru since my Kyle died 21 months ago is normal. I’m 59 yrs.old and also had a tatoos done over ky heart to remind me of my child. He was only 34 and taken way to soon. He was diagnoised with stage 4 germ cell carcenoma 2 days after his birthday. He suffered tor 7 months before this massive tumor took him. I’m grateful it wasn’t any longer than that. He was so strong during it all, I heard him take his first breath and was there with him when he took his last. Watching my son wither away was the hardest thing I have ever done. I miss him everyday

    • Clara Hinton

      Robbie, I’m so very sorry about your Kyle. Hearing things such as watching your son suffer for seven months breaks my heart a little bit more. Again, I’m so very sorry. I am so thankful for you that you were with Kyle when he took his last breath. I think that’s one of the things that will always hurt about losing my son Mike. I wish so much that I could have been with him, could have held him, could have said “I love you” to him. We each hold our own special griefs — none of them easy. I’m so very thankful that you found the book to be helpful to you. Sometimes we feel we are the only one experiencing all of this odd things that happen to us during this difficult grief walk. It helps us so much to know we’re not alone! My thoughts and prayers are with you!

  • Becky Hester

    Comforting. I feel like I have lost my mind most of the time. I asked my counselor if it would always b like this.

  • Susan Jones

    My youngest son, Ian, died in Oct 2014 at age 26. I still can’t remember things sometimes, from one moment to the next. I was always the “rememberer” and the planner. Now, I just don’t have the energy to plan or coordinate things.

    And I also got a tattoo… two bats. Ian had some bat tattoos, and so I had two done, on my right shoulder. One is smaller, and one larger – to remind me of something he always said when he was little. Whenever he would see anything where there were two together, he would say, “look, it’s mommy and me.”

  • Edwin

    Our son Joseph died September 2,2016 from complications of ulcerative colitis. He struggle with it for 16 month as doctors where not able to control his bleeding and suffered a massive stroke and after 25 days we had to make the hard choice to let him go. The pain is unbearable. But thank you for your post it really help us out.

  • Herman

    loss my daughter 18 months ago …..i can identify with the pain,but as a male i wonder do men grieve silently , do they prefer to not talk about their loss and pain…is it because they are expected to show a brave front?