I’ll Never Be Okay

What you don’t want to know about parental grief

Jacqueline Dooley
Human Parts
Published in
5 min readAug 7, 2022
My daughter Ana, with her dog Roo, about 5 months before she died

I’m pretty sure you don’t want honesty. You want to hear that I’m moving on, accepting her death in whatever context acceptance means for you.

You don’t want to hear how hard this is. You don’t want to know about her ashes inside the handmade urn that sits on the shelves where she once kept her stereo. You don’t want to hear about the endlessness of missing her.

It’s been five years, three months, and 15 days since she died. I’m pretty sure you think I should be over it by now. But the truth is, I’m at the beginning of what will be a lifelong affliction — missing her forever.

I know you can’t imagine this loss because you keep saying, “I can’t imagine.” And I keep thinking, “You won’t imagine. You shouldn’t imagine. But maybe, you can imagine my pain and that’s why you need me to be okay.”

Recoiling from me is perfectly understandable. I don’t hate you for this. And anyway, it doesn’t matter what you’re capable of imagining. If you look at me, you don’t have to imagine that nightmares are real. I’m living proof.

Imagine, for a minute, that the world had enough space to hold my grief, and yours, and everyone’s. Imagine we had time to process tragedy. Imagine we could sit with each other without trying to fix the unfixable.

My version of acceptance involves carrying my pain — and Ana’s memory — forward into a much darker existence than you can imagine.

It’s okay. I don’t want your light. I have no use for it anymore.

And, anyway, there is light here — the kind that doesn’t create shadow. It’s fairy light and starlight and the slenderest of crescent moons. It’s the faint imprint of lightening in a soot-smeared sky. It’s not much, but it’s enough to fight off the shadow of my grief with the weak, persistent glow of hope.

You can keep your blinding sunshine. I prefer my tiny drops of light. I’m not angry at you, but I am angry. Sometimes.

I’m sorry.

Rage. It doesn’t help heal. It doesn’t make things better, but it’s pointless to deny it. Rage can propel me into a new day. I’ll try…



Jacqueline Dooley
Human Parts

Essayist, content writer, bereaved parent. Bylines: Human Parts, GEN, Marker, OneZero, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Pulse, HuffPost, Longreads, Modern Loss