Whilst it looks like a celebrity Who’s Who, these actors, writers and singers share something in common with many of us. They all know what it is to grieve the loss of a child. For some of them, such as Mia Farrow, she has lost two children, one of them on Christmas Day itself.
So often in the midst of our own grief, we can feel as if no-one else has possibly been through what we have. I used to think I was an island. I was the only one who could feel this utter and devastating pain, the agony of losing a child. I soon realised, my experiences were shared far too often by far too many. Whilst our individual experiences are different and unique, our commonalities are many. Grief becomes a leveller, for all of us.
There are many, many more, whose names would be familiar to you. Those who have lost spouses, brothers, sisters and friends. There is no demarcation in grief, it can come calling for any one of us in this life. For many it already has.
There are three grief encounters for each of us in this human life we live. That which happens to:-
- Our self
- Our friends
- Our work colleagues
So far I have said goodbye to many whom I loved with all my heart. I have been touched by all three such encounters in my life, many more than once. It would be so easy to become bitter and hardened by that. To shut myself off from relationships and from any future pain or hurt. Do I want to live like that? No I don’t. Whilst it might be tempting for a while, it’s not the way I want to spend my gap. That gap, short or long, that makes up the sum of our time left on this earth. The mysterious gap we often don’t even care about when we are in the depths of our grief, but is there spread out before us.
My heart is open but it’s a frail loving heart. Do I worry desperately for my surviving children still? Yes. Does my mind go into overdrive if my loved ones are late arriving from a long driving trip? Yes. Do I dread saying goodbye to my beloved and loyal dog? Yes….Yes…Yes! But I love still because amidst my vulnerabilities and my fragility I refuse to let grief take from me any more than it already has and freeze my heart forever.
Jerry Sittser, who lost his mother, wife and daughter in a car accident talks about this very thing in “A Grace Disguised”,
“Who in his or her right mind would ever want to feel such pain more than once? Is love worth it if it is that risky? Is it even possible to love after loss, knowing that other losses will follow? I have thought many times how devastating it would be for me if I lost another of my children, especially now that I have invested so much of myself into them. I am terrified by that possibility. Yet I cannot imagine not loving them either, which is even more abhorrent to me than losing them……..It takes tremendous courage to love when we are broken.”
Somehow find that courage, your own courage to go on, to love, and to live your gap with openness of heart and of spirit.
Maureen Hunter is a grief coach, bereaved mother, author and speaker. She is widely known for providing inspiration and instilling hope into the lives of many experiencing grief and loss. Her unique gifts lie in understanding the territory of grief and insightfully helping individuals how to deal with grief and move forwards into their own “living after loss”.