The stage was set. Cleared off desk. Plenty of battery life on my laptop. Hot-ish mug of coffee. Surprisingly and abnormally quiet house. It was the prime environment for writing success. 

Except nothing would come out. 

I stared intently at the keyboard, willing it to start typing the words that were bombarding my mind. 


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I took a deep sigh and told myself I just needed to start and that I could always revise as I went. I started with her name and instantly began to cry. 

I’d rather have writer’s block than this. Writing my mother’s obituary was the most difficult writing task I’d ever attempted. 

How do you fit a life lived and the impact of the lives left behind in a post-it-sized square? How do you juggle facts and feelings? How do you write about someone you loved so much with such a broken heart? How do you keep the anger from casting a dark shadow over the entire thing? How do I share what’s in my soul without alienating other people’s feelings? How do I include her voice and what she would want me to say while also saying what I wanted to say? How do I write it in a way that depicts her importance to everyone who knew her? 

I called out loud from behind my desk, “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THIS??” The sobs came, and I was completely overtaken. It was the kind of crying that can’t be stopped once it startsyou just have to ride it out. Your whole body feels it and it makes you want to look in the mirror to see the anguish playing out for yourself. It’s an ugly cry. 

Then, I heard my mom’s voice saying to me, “It’s OK honey, sometimes you just need a good cry. It’s good for the soul.” She was right. 

I sniffled my sniffles and wiped my mascara-streaked cheeks (of all mornings to have done makeup). That little five-minute meltdown reset me. Still snotty and sad, I positioned myself back in my chair and laid my fingers on the keyboard. I took an incredibly large breath in and an exaggerated breath out. 

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I started with her name. 

It wasn’t easy, but the words came easier as I realized her voice is always with me and the words I chose would be the best ones for right now. 

How was I going to write this? One word at a time with the allowance given for brief intermissions of soul-cleansing crying when needed. 

Nickey J Dunn

I'm a full-time wife, mom of three, employee, OCD Irish Aries. I'm originally from the Pacific Northwest, now living in Phoenix. I'm passionate about my family, writing, and writing about my family. Mental health, anti-bullying, and body-positive advocate.