Ethan Died.

Disclaimer: I have avoided publishing this post for a while now, because it doesn’t really go anywhere. There is no beautiful metaphor and I haven’t really figured out what any of it means yet. This is truly me in the middle of processing something. Consider yourself warned.


I’ve danced around the subject for a while. I’m really bad at talking about it. I do the same thing in real life that  I’ve done so far on the blog, I just kind of slip it in, maybe one comment about it, but then I move on and move on and pretend like it didn’t happen (or that it’s totally normal). I can’t even say it. Usually if I have to say something about it I say things like “Ethan’s accident”  or “I lost my little brother.” Those hurt a lot less, the language creates a false sense of distance from the truth. When people say  “Ethan died” my gut reaction is to punch them, literally. My heart starts racing and I have to take a second to calm down. It doesn’t make any sense, it’s the truth of what happened. I know its what happened. I saw Ethan, he did die. So why does saying the truth hurt so much?

It’s because I’m an avoider, and when someone says Ethan died, there is no more pretending.

I’m trying to face it now. I have finally driven by the accident site and I’ve talked about the day for the first time in months, so I thought it was time to write about it.

Loss is strange. Right after the accident, people told me all about the stages of grief and how it works and what I will feel and everything I’m experiencing is normal.. blah blah blah. I get it, it is normal. The stages grief cycle makes sense to me, I can explain it. Just like I can explain an eating disorder or any other mental process. I can explain the stages of grief and why it happens. I could sit here and write a beautiful post about it and put a nice bow on it. That post would be titled Losing a Brother  or  Grief Sucks. I have experienced grief/loss in other ways recently and I can clearly see the stages of grief in those losses as well. Its just a process like anything else. I could comfortably write all day about denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. You can do a google search though.

The is why this post is titled Ethan Died. Its different than grief. Its all those little moments when I feel like something is missing and I can’t put my finger on it. Then I realize whats missing. It wrecks me. I get that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach and want to wake up from this nightmare. It is somehow different from the stages of grief (or at least it feels like it, a psychologist might tell me differently).We can talk about grieving anything. Ethan dying is different.

Understanding the stages of grief doesn’t help when I need something from the car and its cold outside. My little brother isn’t around to force him to go out to the car for me. He’s not riding next to me, being the DJ. My passenger seat is empty driving between my Mom’s and my Dad’s on Christmas or Thanksgiving or any other time. I can’t get angry at him or protect him or laugh with him or talk with him about picking a college.

Now that I am through the first Christmas without him, I hate it. People say time heals, but right now time just feels unfair. Each and every day is one day further away. One more day that Ethan won’t know. He will never know the year 2016. He will never know what it feels like to get accepted into college. He will never get married, or have kids, or get arrested, or whatever else. That is unfair. It’s shitty. It’s what happens when you die and it sucks.

Sometimes, I think he is the lucky one. He gets to be with Jesus right now, and gets to skip all the mess. He doesn’t have to feel the pain like the rest of us. He gets to live in Perfection while still changing lives here. He is free from sin. That seems pretty great, and I am so thankful for that. We have a God who loves us so deeply and has prepared the perfect place for us. Ethan is there right now. The older sister in me is a little bit jealous of that.


p.s. I know that picture isn’t the most flattering of either of us, but I really liked it because it was just us being goofy.



9 Replies to “Ethan Died.”

  1. Beautifully said. I have more responses to this post that will take more time than presently available, but for now am reminded of the many exhortations by other travelers on the grief journey to remember it is not always (or even usually) a linear path.

    Also, and not for the first time while reading your blog, you describe a coping process that appears to embrace “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” We’re all here to help you through your truth. You may not always feel it, but I already see the emergence of an authentic healing, and your brave confrontation with your truth has definitely inspired and helped me and countless others in our own healing.

  2. Taryn, Thank you for putting this out here. I know the importance of language & the power of words. Your words here have power, too.
    The stages of grief are cycles, really. Not a checklist to run through: Shock (check). Denial (check). Anger (check). Ridiculous. You might live in anger for a long time. Or you might leave anger & then be disappointed when you find you’ve returned to it again later. Let yourself do what needs to be done. Give yourself grace to grieve: to be angry, to be sad, to be both or neither.
    You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

  3. Jennifer Zander says: Reply

    This is so very well put, and most of all, it’s how you feel. Never hide that. You own it.

  4. I knew Ethan very briefly, when he was just a little guy in elementary school (my daughter went to Brown with him). His death affected me in a way that surprised me – maybe because of the connection to my own child. I think of him often now. And I think of you and your family often. My heart hurts for all of you.

    You write so beautifully, Taryn. I blog as well, and I’ll add yours to my reading list. This place, where we write, is kind of magical – it’s full of lovely, supportive people. Take care of you. xo

  5. This made me cry, because I never want to know what you’re feeling. But, you are very brave and strong for talking about it, most people would just hide away in a corner.

  6. Elizabeth Estep says: Reply

    Love this post. You said it all to well. Death does suck but Ethan got his reward….being in heaven with Jesus. Find some comfort that although this time sucks one day it will be grand when he meets you on the other side. Hugs!!!!

  7. Carolyn Driver says: Reply

    Your story is so amazing, I feel the same I lost my granddaughter and best friend in March and my heart is broken,never had a death so close to me the pain is so unbearable, my heart goes out to you.

  8. Grief does suck. I appreciate your honesty. We all need more of that.

  9. […] way, his big sister, Taryn, tells of her journey over the last few months in her article titled Ethan Died.   “When people say  “Ethan died” my gut reaction is to punch them, […]

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