The Hardest 30 Days: Countdown to The 5-Year Anniversary of My Daughter’s Death

I’m live blogging my most difficult days of the year

Jacqueline Dooley
Human Parts
Published in
11 min readFeb 24, 2022
A selfie taken by Ana in 2016 (age 15)

Day 30: These bleak February days with their unsettled weather patterns make me so impatient for spring. I watch the feeders from my office window, counting the cardinals in the naked branches of the nectarine tree.

As the day of your death draws closer, I make an endless, futile wish that time had simply stopped.

I wish that I am living the same day over and over again, a day in 2016 before you got really sick, a good day where you were happy and here and whole. I miss you so much. The missing is like a sixth sense.

Day 29: I drive past the graveyard by the high school, the one I couldn’t bear to bury you in because the thought of you alone, your bones lying deep down in the cold earth, was too overwhelming. There is a funeral taking place. The street is crowded with cars and mourners.

People dressed in dark colors stand beside a fresh grave as others find a place to park.

I navigate slowly past the procession and think of your ashes in their handmade ceramic urn, quietly resting on a shelf in my office. The grief hits me, as fresh and devastating as if it’s the first day without you.

Should we have buried you in that graveyard instead of keeping the remains of your body so close? At least we’d have a place to visit, to leave flowers, to step away from the sadness of our house.

But later, I drive past the graveyard again and see the new grave with its bare dirt and bright pile of flowers. I feel immense relief that we didn’t put you there in the cold earth, so close to the high school where your sister is a senior. There are no lonely graves for my girl.

Day 27: Six Februaries ago we didn’t know you were dying, at least not officially. You spent most of the month driving back and forth to the hospital, getting daily radiation for the tumors in your abdomen and pelvis. That was the month we finally got you a puppy in a desperate attempt to keep you smiling during a time of deep worry and pain.



Jacqueline Dooley
Human Parts

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