NPR had a spot recently – “Instead Of Replacing Missing Body Parts, Moon Jellies Recycle” – and I’m thinking there’s a lesson in the #MoonJelly. I often reflect on one of the early things my husband said after losing Emma. He likened it to a major amputation. You’ll always yearn for the part you’ve lost and you’ll always remember what life was like before you lost it. But you learn to do things that don’t require what’s missing. In a sense, you reshape what’s left around what’s gone. And one day, if you’re lucky and you work hard at it, you will be whole again. You won’t be the same, of course, and you may be diminished in many ways, but like the moon jelly, the essential parts of you will survive. Check out the NPR report here – and thanks, Meg Campbell, for sharing. [Read more…]
My youngest child Emma died July 8, 2011, at 19 years of age. She wasn’t sick, she wasn’t doing any of the stupid things that teenagers sometimes do, she wasn’t hit by a drunk driver or a stray bullet. She went to bed one night and simply didn’t wake up the next day.
For quite a while, I was certain that this loss that happened to me is the worst thing that ever happened to anybody. I reasoned that others who have lost a child didn’t lose Emma, and no mother could ever have loved their child as much as I love Emma. Things like that. But after a time, I began to think a little less selfishly, and my eyes opened to situations that, honestly, might even have been worse than what I’ve had to confront.
All Ways of Losing a Child are ‘Worst’
I reflect on the funeral of a 6-week-old baby that I attended where there was just a single poster of photos, and I think of how much life Emma was able to experience …
I reflect on a colleague who lost her son to a fatal condition that they knew could strike at any time, and I think of how she must have felt each time when the phone rang at night …
I reflect on a long-lost friend of 38 years ago who found me on Facebook, and I now think about her 19-year-old son who committed suicide …
And then I think about Joe Biden … I do not know much about him, but I know this: He lost his baby girl and young wife in a horrific car accident while they were on their way home from Christmas shopping. He had to take care of his surviving sons, both of whom were physically hurt by the crash and undoubtedly emotionally devastated. And he had to do this on a public stage shortly after a joyous win in an election in which no one thought he had a chance.
Yes, I now believe that things could be worse than what I have experienced. Things could always be worse. But that makes me wonder and marvel at how these other folks survive, because I know how hard it’s been for me, and I look to see the qualities that give them strength. [Read more…]
Like many of you, I’ve been drawn to the set of 23 questions that many of my friends with young children have been answering and sharing on Facebook. It makes me wish I had a young child to ask! It’s been lovely to see the answers which range from funny to sweet to thought-provoking. Thank you, Crystal Hardy, for originating these, or at least the stream that I saw HERE.
What gave me pause was the suggestion that your child’s answers be saved and asked again each year. As many of you know, my youngest child, Emma, died suddenly in her sleep at the age of 19. Instantly, every aspect of her life became precious as my family sought to preserve every piece of her that we could – from everything in her room to everything she had every written to every memory we could capture and freeze in as much detail as possible.
It became immediately clear that there was a void in what we knew, and thus could preserve, about Emma. Some were things I wished I had asked her more consistently (and remembered more deliberately) throughout the years. What was her favorite memory when she was 5? 10? 19? What were her favorite places? … the things she was most proud of?
The vast majority of you won’t lose your child to death, thank goodness. But you will lose your one-year-old when she becomes two, your toddler when he becomes four or five, your middle-schooler when she gets to high school. And one day, you will lose the young adult who is meant to leave you and start a family of his own. Will you have been able to preserve what matters most from each of those years? [Read more…]
By now, you may have read Sheryl Sandberg’s Facebook post from June 3rd that she wrote to mark the end of sheloshim – a period of religious mourning – for her late husband, Dave Goldberg. (See Sheryl’s original post.)
On May 1st, Dave died in a gym accident while on vacation with his family. He was 47. Sheryl’s profoundly personal, deeply touching post is all the more poignant when you consider that she wrote it so shortly after losing her husband. And I can only imagine that many of the thoughts, emotions, and revelations that she shared will continue to inform each and every day, in some way or another, for the rest of her life. [Read more…]
As I mentioned in the interview with Mark, I spent a lot of time in Texas. In fact, my youngest son Ben is a card-carrying Texan since he was born there back in 1989. Mark called losing a child being handed “a bunch of rotten eggs,” and he’s not wrong. Still, I found myself talking about learning to laugh again and encouraging others who have experienced grief to find a reason to laugh as soon as you can. It’s the first and best step toward getting to a new normal. The interview is my shortest (only 15 minutes, but I think you’ll agree Mark did a great job of asking all the right questions. I hope you can relate to my answers! Let me know!
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