It Is What It Is

September 19, 2016

The other day I was looking for something in my closet when I caught a glimpse of one of my husband’s hats. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I was overcome with grief. I held it in my hands, lifted it to my chest, and hugged it tight and cried. Then I lifted it to my face. I wanted it to still smell like him. I know that probably sounds mental, but the more time that passes, the more I long to feel him in a tangible way. So like a weirdo, I stood in my closet deeply inhaling into that hat. And….nothing. It didn’t smell like his hair. It didn’t smell like anything. It’s hard for me to describe the sadness of not being able to smell him. I was mad at myself for not putting something of his in a storage bag to try to hold in his scent. It was just another reminder that he’s gone. Gone-gone.

Grief is kind of like the movie Groundhog Day. My brain understands he’s gone. My brain knows I won’t see him again until Heaven, but my heart has a severe case of amnesia. My heart has to re-remember he’s gone almost daily. And when it does, it’s like I’m realizing it for the very first time. Over and over and over again. Stupid Groundhog Day. Stupid heart. Stupid grief.

I know the memory of Mark isn’t in his “stuff.” I am not interested in building and keeping a shrine of his belongings or anything, but I do long to feel him, smell him, hear him. I worry about forgetting these things. I don’t want to forget what his voice sounded like. I don’t want to forget his scent or the way it felt to hold his hand or to be held in his embrace. And yet I know it is inevitable, because time is a thief.

Man wearing his Daddy's hat for picture day at school

Gman wearing his Daddy’s hat for picture day at school

Occasionally I’ll find Lolo swimming in one of his sweatshirts, or Gman wearing one of his hats. On school picture day, Gman decided he wanted – needed to wear his Dad’s hat and his special necklace I had made for him. I understood. There’s comfort in touching his things….we feel a little bit closer to him through his belongings. I don’t know what grief experts would say about this – don’t really care. “It is what it is,” as Mark useHandwriting necklaced to say.

How about you? Any other crazy clothes sniffers out there? Have you found yourself doing any of these things too? Or ARE we truly weirdos? I’d love to hear your stories. Leave me a comment if we aren’t alone here.

Grief=Extra Grace Required, man. Truly.




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  • Reply Pamela September 19, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    I know what you mean about smell. I was so disappointed when I discovered my mother had washed all of the clothes that were loaded into my sisters car when my son was killed by a car while at college. My sister made some bears out of some of the western shirts my sister made for some family members. I found a cologne bottle with some scent still in it and would spray it on my bear. You are not weird or crazy you are just grieving.

    • Reply Extra Grace Required September 19, 2016 at 9:17 pm

      Pamela – thank you so much for being brave and kind and posting your story. I am so grateful you’re here.

  • Reply Mf September 19, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    I stole the hospital gpwn mom was wearing when she died. That and her raincoat (with a wad of toilet paper she used to blot her lipstick) in a ziploc. On dark days i put on the coat, huff the fading scent and blot my tears with her toilet paper kiss. Sorry not sorry.

    • Reply Extra Grace Required September 19, 2016 at 9:41 pm

      Thank you for telling me (us) this! I think it’s just so hard and we do what we gotta do, am I right?

  • Reply Lisa Stock September 19, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    I had a shirt that smelled like me mom right after she died. I sniffed it deeply every day until it lost its scent. To this day I spray Opium perfume on myself when I go past a perfume counter for that little sniff of pleasure. Hugs to all of you.

  • Reply Lisa September 19, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    My grandmother passed away last month and today we unpacked some of her towels and they smelled so good. Like potpourri sashes. Made me smile and sad at the same time.

    • Reply Extra Grace Required September 20, 2016 at 9:35 am

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Lisa. Prayers of comfort for you and your family. And thank you so much for sharing your story.

  • Reply Julie September 21, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Jodi, yes. Their smell on a shirt or jacket. I would breath deeply into my mom’s clothing. The tangible “feel” of a belonging. It’s very real. I still keep one of those sample perfume papers that sometimes come in a store advertisement. It’s the perfume my mom used to wear. I keep it in my drawer. If I find another one, I’ll grab it in a heartbeat and keep it until the scent fades away. You’re not weird and neither am I. It’s just, I believe, that our senses are so powerful. And our bodies remember these sensory things we associate with a person and a memory. They help you feel closer. Just let it bring you comfort.

  • Reply Jan September 22, 2016 at 10:01 am

    this is so true…when their smell is gone I found cologne they might have worn triggers memories. When my Dad died I went to the basement and took his dirty shirt out of the laundry basket and held it tight to my face …his scent is gone but even the memory of that time stays with me.

    • Reply Extra Grace Required September 22, 2016 at 10:03 am

      Thank you, Jan for sharing your story with all of us. Looks like you’re not alone.

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