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Thank you for sharing this, Greta.

I've been sitting here for five minutes trying to figure out what to write next, but it boils down to this: what you wrote is twenty years old and dammit, people are still dying from AIDS. My brother died from it just a few months ago. Every time I think of him it hurts. Every time I move through the day without him it hurts.

I know these things settle and change over time, and that given time it will hurt less even as I go on missing him.

I just need to share this post around. But I don't think I'll be watching that documentary for a while.

Thank you.



I don't know what to say. My first thought was silly: This guy who I've never heard of, died 3 days after my brother was born, before I was even thought of. Ridiculous right?
Because I've never known anyone who died of AIDs and I hope I never do. But people are still dying of AIDs. All over the place. And there's virtually nothing I can do to change that. Or the stigma still attached to having the disease at all.

Benjamin Machanik

My father died last year in September, not of AIDs but of cancer. And I agree absolutely with your statement about the horribleness of not being able to see the change in the departed or being able to ask them about new things. My father was the one other atheist in a family of wildly differing conflicting views, and there's nearly not a day that goes buy that I think 'Dad would be interested in this' only to realize that there is no more experiences I can share with the individual, only the memory of him.

Rich Hugunine

Ow. Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!
I really still - after all these years - cannot figure out which was worse: watching my friends suffer and die, or my sense of outrage and loss.
It's a potent cocktail of emotion that burbles up occasionally and befogs everything I do for days.
I learned long ago not to resist the emotion, not to push it away or repress it. Instead I wallow. I bray and shout and cry and pull all the scabs off and sit in my little corner and bleed.
I do this because for some damned horrible vicious nasty idiotic fucked up reason I happened to survive and they didn't. (I'd trade my life for more than a few of theirs.)
But I do it also because I'm still enraged that their awful physical suffering was enhanced by ignorance and hate and fear and abandonment and Fred-Phelps-like religious fervor.
I think I'm trying to express the rage they hadn't the time or energy or ability to express for themselves.
I carry the grudge that those I loved and who loved me were ignored and vilified and treated like trash by their families, by some of their friends, by their government and too often by their churches. As Elie Wiesel said, "Lest we forget."


Deeply, deeply moving.


Thank you for sharing this. It brought me to tears.


very nice, greta. I remember my friend Peter, the only one in high school who really got me and I got him. We were smart and iconoclasts in our ugly little hometown in northern appalachia, where anyone different got called a fag. I lost track of him after graduating and the next thing i hear is that he's dead of AIDS, and likely because he had to hide what he was for so long that he became ashamed of it. He's the only one who I would have cared to see again. And he isn't here anymore. So I try to make sure that the others lik him don't have to deal with that in the ugly little towns of the world.


Thank you, Greta, that was beautiful. I never knew Rob, of course, but reading this gives me some sense of what he must have been like, and how I would have liked to have met him.

That's the real way the dead live on: through the living, in the memories they leave behind and the millions of small ways those memories influence our lives. Even though they're fuzzy, imperfect snapshots compared to the much larger reality of the person, they can still motivate us to action, can still make us reflect on our words, can still influence the way we think and speak. You're a different person for having known him, and in a small way, his contributions live on through you, which means they live on in your influence on everyone you know and love.

Allen C. Dexter

Very moving story. I've never had anyone close to me die of AIDS, but a cousin has been HIV positive for a long time and the drug cocktail keeps him reasonably healthy and active.

Death of a close friend always leaves a void and emotional trauma. Thanks for sharing.


It was your "Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to do With God" piece that first brought me to this blog last year. You are so shamelessly honest about grief, a condition that normally invites the emptiest platitudes from most well-meaning folk. That honesty has provided so much relief to me, and I'm sure to many of your readers.

You expressed right in this article how painful it was to write. And how painful it still is to read, twenty years later. I hope writing it, and re-posting it, has brought you some relief too.

I'm sorry about your friend. I lost a good friend some time ago, and it still hurts. But I do find myself telling myself, "how lucky am I to have had someone in my life who STILL makes me feel this deeply, long after she's gone?"

Dan M.

I've never been part of the queer community, but reading this

Most of my visitors are queer. None of them asks how my friend died.

was just devastating. It's such a stark indictment of the disregard and the silence that the larger society had paid your friend and so many others. It makes me ashamed to be human.

Robyn Slinger

That is a poignant piece of writing, Greta. It rattled and shook me all from inside. At a loss for words now.


Greta -

I read your blog constantly and adore it. You've taught me far more about life, and love, and sex, than I've learned from my scant years of experience.

I'm only now coming of age as a gay woman. You have helped immeasurably.

After reading this piece, I sat down with my head in my hands and cried and cried and cried.

fellow mourner

I have read your blog occasionally but never commented. My father died of AIDS in 1993, two weeks before my 11th birthday, and I just wanted to say thank you for this post. You captured grief so eloquently. After almost 18 years, the raw emotion is replaced with a new sadness, that of watching someone who was in your life as a living human every day slowly slip out of your memories as well.

For me, there's also the "what if." My father died months before the AZT cocktail was released, and I always think, what if he had just hung in for a couple more months. Would I have gotten years more with him? Would he miraculously be alive today, able to hang on as treatment improved over the years? I know what ifs are a rabbit hole of mental torment, but it's hard not to play that game in grief.

What also breaks my heart is that my father died ashamed of who he was and what he was dying of. My father lived and died in the closet, and begged us all to take his "secret" to the grave. As stigmatized as it is now, I remember a time when AIDS was far more stigmatized, when my father lied not only because of his personal demons but because of the real fear he would lose his job, his health care, his pension. The death of my father from AIDS breaks my heart, but what makes it more unbearable is the knowledge it broke his heart too.

Thank you for sharing this, for reminding us of what was and what still is not over.

herve leger

I agree with your Blog and I will be back to check it more in the future so please keep up your work. I love your content & the way that you write. It looks like you’ve been doing this for a while now, how long have you been blogging for?


I know what ifs are a rabbit hole of mental torment, but it's hard not to play that game in grief.

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