Lessons from Loss

Lessons from Loss

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I’ve written articles over the past 3 or 4 years but I haven’t written anything just for me – FROM me. Not on a regular basis or at any great length. I’ve had the desire to put my fingers on the keyboard and speak up about major events happening in the world, about life changes and personal heartache, and yet every time I’ve felt a rush of inspiration, I’ve extinguished it just as quickly.

The last time I blogged, it was the morning of January 6, 2021. I probably don’t need to remind you what happened that day in American history. You would think it would immediately light a fire under my ass and I’d be typing away about the insanity unfolding on my TV screen, but instead I just watched it in anguish, shock, and anger at these cretins storming the Capitol. Wait. Cretins is too kind a word.

So why didn’t I blog? Later that day in 2021? I blogged as it was starting to happen and then nothing more about it. And what happened to me in 2020? I could blame the pandemic. That seemed to shut down a lot of us. Much of my silence has been due to energy level – mine has been a lot lower for both health and time management reasons. But probably the biggest reason of all has been dealing with something up until then I haven’t really been faced with much in 50+ years.


In April 2020, I lost my Dad. In October 2022, I lost Mom, too. This photo is from Christmas time in 2019, the last season we got to celebrate with the two of them together.

In the photo, Dad had just been declared the champion of that particular Boggle game. We took word games very seriously in the Cantos household. But there was always time for goofing around, as long as my Dad was somewhere nearby.

So, yep, it’s been a pretty shitty decade so far, if you ask me, especially if you throw the pandemic and Capitol storming into the mix.

Death isn’t something I’ve blogged about much. It’s not something many of my friends or family like to talk about either. It’s like religion and politics. We’re told that we should probably not go into too much detail.

I’ve lost grandparents over the years and of course, mourned their loss. I had a close friend commit suicide when I was 18 and learned about it two days after I graduated high school. As you might imagine, that fucked me up pretty good mentally for a while and still pops into my head often.

Up until 2020, the greatest loss I ever suffered that truly hit me hard was the loss of my first dog Dexter in 2013. And I have blogged about him before a few times. But that didn’t really prepare me for the rollercoaster which started to roll in June 2019, the last time my dad got really sick and went in the hospital not once but twice over the next six months. When he wasn’t undergoing surgeries and chemo to fight a very rare cancer, bile duct cancer or biliary cancer, he was taking a fall at home and breaking a hip, because cancer wasn’t enough to deal with, right? Fast forward to spring of 2020, and as the world started to mask up and shut its doors, my dad passed, overnight and early Easter morning. The next 30 months were spent guiding his lost spouse, my mom, through uncharted waters for both of us.

People don’t talk about death. It’s not comfortable, and anything uncomfortable, we push to the side and fill conversation with other chatter. We all do it. I’m just as guilty as anyone. When someone we know dies, we ponder what may have been happening in our friend or family member’s life at that time. Maybe we beat ourselves up for not calling more or forgetting to follow up about a lunch date. Or not responding to that private message on Facebook.

When a friend of ours loses someone precious to them – a parent, a child, a spouse – we reach out but most of us feel too uncomfortable to call, so we buy a pretty card and send it, maybe we go electronic and send an email or text and we offer our condolences, our thoughts, our prayers – maybe even toss in that tried and true, if you need anything at all, please let us know. Again, I’m not crucifying others for these actions and words. I’ve done them. I’ve written them.

But when you are in the middle of that dark cloud as the loved one left behind, the sad truth is – none of that helps.

We all mourn differently. We all need different settings and amount of time to grieve. But we all share something in common. We’re all going to mourn at some time or another. And others are going to mourn us (hopefully – if we left some bit of good in this world).

After three years of living in a post-death universe, not once but twice now, and met with funeral home people TWICE, changed account statuses and sent death certificates TWICE, handled an urn or memorial tubes with ashes TWICE, had to contact family and friends TWICE, prepared memorial cards in tribute to loved ones TWICE, and scattered ashes for my parents TWICE (in those very waters in the photo below – this is the sunrise the next morning, by the way)…after all of that, I’m exhausted – spent – drained. Use whatever word you like, and I’m sure it applies.

None of us are ever ready for this stuff. Not even after doing it 30 months earlier. But yet no one wants to talk about it.

Maybe if we talked about death more, it wouldn’t be this taboo topic and we could prepare ourselves better for the inevitable – what’s to come for us and for the people around us we love.

I’ve been quiet for a while. And some of it during that 30 months was out of respect for the surviving parent and privacy. But I’m done being quiet. Privacy gets us nowhere. We need to talk about these tough subjects.

Don’t worry. If you’ve liked my past blogs about movies, sports, music and the like, I’m sure I’ll be blogging about fun, goofy shit again, but for right now, humor me. I’ve got something to say and yep, you can bet the topic of death is going to be part of it.

So strap in. We all might learn something from each other. ~ ck


  1. Hazel Sladek

    I feel you. It’s hard but it’s something we try to deal with everyday.

  2. MARY L. Gillispie

    I read your blog and am glad you were able to vent your inner thoughts. Life is rough and has its ups and downs. We all have inner strength and faith we just need to learn how to apply it. You did a great, heroic job and those who know you will applaud you for that. Keep your writing up you have so much to offer. Never under estimate yourself. Allow close friends and family inside, they are there for you to help you through difficult times. I agree that a phone call from someone means more than words can say. They come from the heart not a device. Love you my sweet niece, Looking forward to your next blog.

  3. That really sucks, Chris. So hard to lose your parents, period. But to have it happen so close together is just awful. I was numb for months after my mom died.
    And sorry I have been an absent friend. Michael has had some major health issues this past year, so I have not been paying close attention to my friends. I apologize.
    Praying for you! I still believe in God, but I just can’t go to church anymore.
    Love, Gail

  4. I enjoyed reading your blog, Chris, even if it brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. After shielding both parents during two Covid lockdowns I had to cope with losing my father to COPD on Boxing Day, 2020. The last time I saw him alive was on Christmas Day. As you say, everyone deals with the loss of a beloved parent in their own way, but none of us are prepared for the sense of loss that exists after their passing. All we can do is try to stay strong, treasure the memories and appreciate our loved ones a little bit more. X

  5. I am very sorry for your losses. I lost my parents within a few years more than 30 years ago and sometimes a song, a photo … a Christmas ornament catapult me back and back and the loss is just as raw. But it doesn’t last long, the memories of all that was good emerge and that wave of love overwhelms the sad. I find the loss never leaves but you heal. Let the phantom ache you will carry be of remembrance and love — it will bring you joy and make your smile through the tears.


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