A Loss That Isn’t Mine

My ex died and I’m having a difficult time processing it.

We only dated a few months back in 2019. It didn’t end badly. Since then, he’d become a truck driver, gotten married, had gastric surgery, started a podcast with some of his childhood friends, made more music, did a couple travel assignments as a CNA… he seemed to be doing well.

One of his songs popped up on my Spotify back in March and I reached out to see how he was doing—we still did that on occasion. It was a short exchange on IG. He told me about his travel contracts and some news about his dad, we wished each other well, and that was it.

I was thinking about him a few weeks ago as my aunt was asking about entertainment for her sister’s surprise party but hadn’t reached out yet. Sunday, I decided to see how he was doing. Before I sent him a message, I saw that he hadn’t been on IG in months, which was unlike him since he was a singer and was constantly posting content. And I noticed the podcast page was inactive in his bio. For some reason, I felt the need to look through his wife’s page, and that’s where I found her post about losing her best friend. I then went to his best friend’s page (idk, in case I was reading plain English wrong) and his post from July confirmed my ex had died. I couldn’t find anything to tell me what he died from, but his best friend had seen him in the hospital just before he took his last breath.

I was shook. Like, walking around the house in circles not remembering what I was trying to do shook. I had been fairly happy that morning—I was headed out soon with my parents and brother to wrap up our weekend family staycation—but that news made me want to crawl back in bed and disconnect from everyone.

But why? He and I weren’t particularly close after we stopped seeing each other. Everything happened so fast at the beginning. We connected quickly and then spent a lot of time together. I met his family, he met mine; I spent a lot of time down in Largo where he lived. It was good until it wasn’t, but it was never bad, it just wasn’t working out. We stayed friendly. I don’t know why I feel hurt by him not being anymore.

And it’s still difficult for me to think about—him not existing anymore. It’s weird. It feels unnatural. He was in his mid-30s.

I want to cry for him. I want to tattoo a burrito on my wrist (his nickname for me). I want to DM his wife and ask what happened to him. But he wasn’t mine. This loss, really, isn’t mine. We dated for a few months three years ago (though, let’s be honest, 2020-2022 has felt like one unending year) and he’s been dead since July. I have no rights to the story of another woman’s husband.

Although the loss may not be mine, the grief is. And I’m still unsure of the reason for my grieving. Maybe it’s because no one I’ve dated as ever died until now (that I’m aware of) and nobody tells you how to mourn the loss of someone you once cared about but no longer have a relationship with.

His death makes me sad. The fact I didn’t know until more than three months later makes me sad. The knowledge that my peers are dying (and for reasons I don’t know)…

I’ve learned through therapy to allow myself whatever grief I feel. And I’ve been feeling it. I’m still experiencing flashes of sadness and hurt and anger and disappointment from my breakup a couple weeks ago and now I’m grieving on top of my grief. But I’m letting myself feel the things instead of shoving them down.

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