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Teacher. Student. Advocate. Personal essays about grief, loss, mindfulness, mental health, and the complexities of being human.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I kick off my shoes, tuck my legs up next to me, and sink into the soft folds of the overworn sofa, settling into the cozy room across from my therapist, Helen, as she putters around the office, finishing up paperwork from her previous client. Helen is not the first…

Photo of Charleston harbor by Nick Dominguez on Unsplash

I stand on a road called Middle Street that bisects a park called Alhambra. To my left are a series of playgrounds shaded by a towering live oak tree dripping with Spanish moss. Delighted squeals puncture my brain as toddlers fly through muggy air on swings. I listen with envy…

Photo by Michael L on Unsplash

When I was eight years old, I kicked a nun. To be fair, she was chasing my best friend, Mike, around a classroom trying to whack him with her cane. To be fair to the nun, Mike and I were doing our damnedest to make the first communion classes she…

“You’ve been getting sick a lot!” my sister texted. I shrugged it off. We’re close. We worry about each other. I wasn’t worried though. My mind landed on the obvious reason for my consistent illnesses. I have two young daughters in elementary school; they’re germ factories, I rationalized. Plus, my…

Lived Through This

Photo: eranicle / Getty Images

Everything is going to be okay.

We whisper it to our children when they skin their knees or have a fight with a friend. We proclaim it to those who have lost their job, their partner, their health. We post it on Instagram, showcasing our optimism. …

In July of 2013, my two-year-old son was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. Ten days later, I delivered twin daughters. Outside Sam’s hospital room, just moments after receiving his fatal diagnosis, my husband, Mike, and I vowed to do everything in our power to make Sam happy.

At first…

This Is Us

The author with her son.
Sam, age 5

Nearly five years ago, I knelt before my five-year-old son Sam in the basement of our friend’s home. The room was filled with a mishmash of furniture from upstairs and outside to accommodate all the people who had come to say goodbye. Sarah, Sam’s hospice nurse, was giving us directions…

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I’ve always had an acute awareness of justice, a hypersensitive internal fairness meter. When things are out of balance, it leaves me with an irritating sense of discomfort, kinetic energy that burns until I attempt to right the wrongs I encounter.

Often those wrongs are small, an everyday social accounting…

I am sitting in a brightly lit, modern conference room on the 11th floor of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, surrounded by strangers, desperately wiping the tears streaming down my cheeks and choking back the sobs threatening to accompany them. …

Sam, age 5, practicing yoga. Photo courtesy of author.

I started practicing yoga consistently about a year before my son, Sam, died. I had tried yoga in the past, but as a form of exercise. In the months preceding and following Sam’s death, yoga became something else entirely. It gave me permission to spend time focusing on simple things…

Erin Benson

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