Mourning Fog


Photo credit: James DeWalt

This is a guest post by Lonnie Howell, a mentor to young men and a musician, who lives in Rollinsville, CO with his wife and three children.

The first few months after a loss are most difficult to deal with, and sometimes even harder to describe. Time seems to lack any sort of consistency. Awaking from a night’s sleep is a challenge in itself as dreams might be the only break from insistent, incessant grief. We must face another long day in this alternate reality without our loved one, which sinks in immediately upon waking. Bodies ache and the once routine act of getting out of bed feels like climbing a steep hill. Thankfully we are creatures of routine and can autopilot our way to maybe make a hot morning beverage and care for our partners, children, or pets. Most days I did not have an appetite but coffee had a comforting effect and provided a small burst of motivation for necessary chores. But the days and the weeks seemed to swirl together like cream in my cup…

On this particular day, the sky was gray and fog blanketed the mountains in ever-changing layers. Vapor spiraled up from the trees like apparitions. I remember drinking my coffee and staring out the window wondering if any of this was real. I would begin to daydream about the life I once knew, the person I once was, then slip back into my battered body which always hurt worse in the morning. The gloomy scene that played like a black and white movie through the window perfectly reflected my mood. I remember walking to the bathroom and briefly looking in the mirror before returning to my depressing seat at the window. I decided to grab my journal and a pencil and attempted to capture the moment…

mourning fog

morning coffee, feed the dogs as
thick fog hangs in grayish tones
dampness creeps into the house
and further chills my aching bones
misty vapor full of ghosts
haunting hills, blinding perspective
visitors that need no host
obscuring present day’s objective
clouded thoughts and silent words
whispering unwanted feelings
hunger leaves as mugs are stirred
another day that grief is stealing…
weak eyes rest on bags of black
tangled hair and mangled features
mirror’s image holds a strange,
pathetic yet familiar creature
the last exhale of Winter’s breath
the longest one I’ve ever known
waiting for Spring to spread it’s wings
and migrate back into it’s home
without a sound, mope around
slipping in and out of dreams
of sunny days on higher ground
before life’s fabric split it’s seams…

As painful and uncomfortable it was to be present with grief on those seemingly impossible days, I know now that deep growth and realizations were happening. I can reflect on those disorienting weeks and months and know this: I survived and I am OK. There’s much of that time period that I don’t remember, but looking back I am grateful for the ability to capture some of these moments of despair. It’s empowering to know that I survived those dark days. If you are in those days now, or can relate to similar times, know that you will be alright and you are doing tremendous work…

Lonnie Howell is a mentor to young men, as well as a musician. He tragically lost his father who was 49 years young, and more recently his son who died unexpectedly 10 days after his first birthday. Lonnie writes poems and songs as a creative outlet to cope with his grief, and frequently spends time discovering the healing powers of nature in the forests of the front range. He lives in Rollinsville, CO with his wife and three children. He can be contacted at