Friday, August 8, 2014


All my life I have been able to find a way through most problems. I have been able to change the situation, change myself or just wait, knowing the issue was time-limited and would resolve itself. Some of the solutions have seemed incredibly disruptive (leaving a job, ending a relationship) but they've all been possible. There has always been some point I could negotiate until I found myself in a more tenable situation.

Death isn't like that. It's non-negotiable. Nothing I can say, do, avoid, embrace, bargain or buy will change the fact that the love of my life got cancer and died. Nothing will change the fact that I am still here without Kevin. Nothing will change the fact that his kids lost their dad way too soon.


Living in a non-negotiable state is incredibly uncomfortable and I think that's part of what makes grief so hard. Losing someone you love is a slap in the face reminding us that we have very little control over our lives. I can problem-solve all I want and I will not be able to negotiate my way out of this one. It sucks. I think most of us have a bit of control-freak in us and death is probably why. If we can control our environment then maybe we can control death.

We can't.
I can't.
I couldn't.

I hate it. I hate that controlling myself can't change this, that no amount of self-control will help. I hate that I cannot negotiate with death, a hostage release or exchange, anything to undo this. It's non-negotiable and that is incredibly frustrating for someone who defines herself as a problem-solver. Kevin defined himself the same way and believed we could find a way to problem-solve his illness, right until the end. And then he solved the problem by facing his death with incredible grace and generosity. He solved the problem by loving himself and us enough to be able to let go.

That, of course, is the only way to negotiate with death. Love each other. Love ourselves enough to remain in this world so the light of those we have lost lingers, reflected off of and carried by of our own light. Love is the only detente we can reach with death as we live in this untenable land of grief, of loss, of sorrow, of without. The love remains. And that, too, is non-negotiable.

(19 weeks. I miss you. I love you.)

(c)2014 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. Beautiful. I'm sorry for your loss.

  2. I hate that it's non-negotiable too. SUCKS!

    I came across this the other day:

    "The way I see it, everybody has a kind of contract with the world. According to the terms of that contract, the world acts in a certain way and you act in a certain way and the world responded in a certain way. It’s a contract that builds up over time.

    And I think one of the most fundamental clauses in that contract is the immortality clause. The immortality clause says the world doesn’t go on without you and those you love in it. We wouldn’t admit to believing the immortality clause if we were pinned down to it, but we act as if it is true nevertheless.

    Then something comes along to contest that clause. With no warning, with no signs pointing to it….All of a sudden everything is shattered….So I have realized that the clause has gotten canceled, and I have to rewrite the contract completely. The whole contract with life has to be renegotiated because none of it makes sense any longer. I’m now in the process of doing that renegotiation.."

    Excerpt is from Seven Choices by Elizabeth Harper Neeld

  3. Your voice is so strong. I hear you when I read your work. I love your writing.
    Thinking of you and Kevin frequently.


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