Excerpts from Journaling About Death

By Karen Tomczak 


Excerpts from journaling about death

(when I was 21, I lost 3 close friends (and 3 close acquaintances)  to accidental overdose-related deaths. Here are some journal entries from that time when I was dealing with the grief.)


Jan 23, 2013.

No amount of wine is going to erase that 3 of my friends are dead in 3 months, all before the age of 22. 

I am going about life, but I feel everything and I feel nothing. I feel the stress of every day like a thorn in my heel. I feel the pull of what the world wants versus the pull of what I want. I feel like someone turned down the dimmer switch on my light. I watch those around me move in a dance of task and routine, a dance of color and lives, in a sea of everything, a sea of nothing. 


Feb.13, 2013.

Death is on my mind regularly, like an ex boyfriend. I plan for it, like a birthday party. I think about sitting in the back at my own funeral. There is my Senior portrait, the one I took after going to get my makeup done. I was 16, it was hot out and the velvet was smooth. The photographer hadn’t been nice. Around my portrait there are white flowers. My friends go up to speak. I imagine them reading off stories about me but I have no idea what they are. An extremely long slideshow will play due to the multitude of photos I have taken in my life. The playlist of songs I requested plays. This isn’t what I wanted obviously, I wanted everyone to go to the beach, but there wasn’t any time to do that. 

I imagine what people would post on the internet. I imagine who would care. I imagine who wouldn’t.

The worst, though, the worst is imagining the next funerals. The ones of those around me. I am calm and still at my own funeral as the timeless essence of soul. The eternal love we all are.

But at this time, I know cannot I hold the shattered pieces of my heart together with will power if I lose another, when I lose another. I know I must overcome that fear as it is inevitable but I prepare Facebook statuses in my head in case of the next person, I steel myself, waiting for the next shock, the next phone call I wonder if this will ever go away. I wonder when grief will stop haunting me. I wonder when I will cease feeling like a ghost. I wonder when I will be able to live in a reality that isn’t heavy with the surrealism of tragedy anymore.


Dec. 18, 2012

Your funeral was on your birthday, which was especially fucked up. 

I have no idea why you were so special for you were never mine. 

But as it was, we are all each others, because we are all each other, and we infinitely belong to one another because we are all made of eternal love. And that’s where you are now. The memorial was terrible and your mother’s grief broke us all into pieces. We ran out of the church, dazed with pain, dragging on menthol cigarettes and  blasting top 40 with the windows down on the freeway to drown out our thoughts because we all drowned in our tears today in another nightmare come true. It never, ever ever gets easier. It never, ever feels fair. You fall asleep in one world and wake up in a parallel universe of pain you cannot escape from because that is your new world. That’s grief. Then we were at ocean beach in San Francisco saying goodbye to you that night in the dark. I wandered out into the water, the legs of my pants soaked, the wind cruel on my face. I said your name and put down the letter I wrote you into the water, calm statements of words and  confessions I wished I could scream into the void for you to hear.  In the waves, the cold suddenly completely ceased. 

 I felt you there with us. You were there. I know you heard me. Your soul filled the space around me, as I whispered-

happy birthday forever-

And your love, for a second that seemed to go on forever, took away the pain.