If only…… If only….. If only……. If only……… If only……..

Most everyone has their share in life of “if only’s.” If only I were better looking, more popular, made more money, lived in a better neighborhood, were more organized, creative, articulate, athletic, had grandchildren, had more faith, had my sister’s curly hair and long eyelashes. So many “if only’s”and” what then’s.”

When our loved one dies suddenly we have a whole new list of “if only’s”. On top of everything else, our aching heart, our desperate longing to have our loved one back, our sleepless nights, our lost sense of purpose; we wander a road full of “if only’s.” We are already traveling a path we did not choose, struggling to find our way, and from out of nowhere uninvited and unbidden, they come, the “if only’s.”

If only he had left 5 minutes later. If only she would have seen a doctor sooner. If only I’d have pushed harder, insisted, if only I’d prayed harder… If only I had prayed at all…. If only the ambulance hadn’t taken so long, if only I’d taken that CPR course, if only I’d loved him or her more, shown it more, if only I’d stayed with him.

As we tread through this land mine of pain and confusion and uncertainty; as doubts and regrets continue to assail us; as our heart longs for a moment of comfort and of peace; many of us wonder if we will ever find our way back to the life we once knew. Many of us desperately try to recreate it, becoming more and more frustrated as we do, the past as it was; is no more…..and that truth eludes us and mocks us.

Even as our head begins to accept the reality of the death our hearts fiercely reject it. Our mind and hearts scream, cry, plead , If only I could have one more dance, one more kiss, one more hug, one more I love you, one more minute.

Some where we realize that even if that wish were granted it would not be enough, we would not be ready, to let go, to say goodbye. We would want one more if only

Next month will be what would have been my son’s twenty-ninth birthday. He was 14 when he died. I will always want another hug, another kiss, another I love you. Though time has erased the pain some of the if only’s continue and now I know that’s okay.

Deb Kosmer 2012


Deb Kosmer

Deb has worked at Affinity Visiting Nurses Hospice for ten years, the first two as a hospice social worker and the last eight as Bereavement Support Coordinator supporting families before and after the death of their loved ones. She provides supportive counseling, developed and facilitates a variety of grief support groups, including a well-attended group for men only as well as other educational events. Deb received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from UW-Oshkosh and her Master’s degree in Social Work from UW Milwaukee. She received her certification in Thanatology through ADEC. Her writing has appeared in New Leaf Magazine, We Need Not Walk Alone, Living with Loss, Grief Digest, numerous hospice publications and EAP publications. Some of her poetry on death and dying will be included in a college textbook for social workers in end of life soon. New Leaf has also used some of her poetry for a line of sympathy and anniversary of death cards. On a personal level, Deb's 14-year-old son died after being struck by a car. Her 31-year-old sister had died in a car accident eight months earlier, and her 56-year-old father died from a heart attack exactly three years before. These three unexpected deaths within three years started Deb on a journey she never wanted to be on and she learned first-hand the importance of having the help and support of others. In the years since, she has experienced other losses, the most recent being the unexpected death of her 44-year-old step-daughter who died from complications three months after routine surgery. Deb's passions are writing, reading, education, nature, and family. She is currently working on a book of her grief poetry. She recently moved with her husband to Waypost Camp, Hatley WI. Her husband accepted a job there as Property Manager and his position allows them to live on-site with acres of woods and a lake. She anticipates the quiet beauty to be a strong catalyst for writing.

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