Grief and Loss
I am prompted to write today about grief and loss.
When someone we love is taken away from us or, that love is somehow severed, either by rejection, abandonment, injury, illness or, through death – we experience a reaction to this loss, this is called grief. The crippling pain of grief is as much a part of the journey through the passage of life, as the thrill and joy of love. It is, perhaps the ultimate price we pay for love, and the cost of attachment and commitment.
Grief creeps up insidiously, like a thief in the night. Grief threatens when we least expect, shaking our very foundations, and dislocating us from the secure, familiar safety of every day life. The journey through the convoluted labyrinth of grief is lonely. Often the traveller treads uneven ground, braving dangerous unmarked territory and sometimes may becomes bogged down and overwhelmed with anger and guilt. It is a struggle to negotiate this difficult terrain – pockmarked with sadness and depression.
We can be uncomfortable and uneasy with the subject of grief, perhaps because it forces us to address our own mortality and that of those dear to us. Yet grief will touch us all in some way within the course of our lives. If we can endeavour to understand this most painful of human emotions, we may ourselves be more adequately prepared for loss, and be able to provide compassion, kindness, support and empathy to those around us who are grieving.
Loss and grief have been shadowy companions throughout my own life, and I often wonder if, in bearing the surname Grieveson, she who grieves… I might have a predetermined propensity to experience grief.
A couple of weeks ago – on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, my family received the tragic news that Molly, the young mother of Sue, my youngest teenage daughter’s close friend, had passed away suddenly.
As the afternoon rolled on and Aussie Rules football matches were broadcast live to air – my family struggled to absorb and assimilate the circumstances surrounding Molly’s untimely death.
My daughter Amelia had forged a strong friendship with Sue who was Molly and Peter’s only child. When Sue and her family moved to Tucson, Arizona, Amelia was invited at the age of fourteen to holiday with them twice within a three year period and likewise Sue also spent her vacation with us, here in Australia.
Amelia had a wonderful time with Sue, they camped at Grand Canyon, sailing down the grand Mississippi, cruising the coast of Mexico and The Bahamas. One of the coolest parts of the adventure was in LA where the girls hung out with the cast and crew of a Nickelodeon production where Molly’s brother was the scriptwriter.
Molly and Peter led a charmed life. Peter worked long hours in finance for a multinational company and his work took him overseas for extended periods of time. Molly and Sue were naturally close; Molly had chosen to give up her highly specialized work as a research chemist making DNA for a cutting edge, high tech bio company, to be a full time mother to Sue.
Two weeks ago Molly and her almost eighteen-year-old daughter were halfway into an amazing trip to Alaska when Molly developed a severe headache and displayed signs of confusion. Sue took her mother to the nearest hospital where an MRI scan revealed that she had a glioblastoma brain tumour. This type of cancer is malignant and spreads rapidly.
Two days later, Molly passed away during neurosurgery, she was forty-four.
We mourn for Molly from the other side of the world and send our thoughts and love to Peter and Sue.
I lost my own mother suddenly when I was just twenty-one. My mum had a massive cerebral aneurysm and just like Molly, she was beautiful and young. I have never really healed from this profound loss at an age when I was only just beginning to understand what is to be a woman.
Mother loss at any age is difficult – but as a young woman, to lose your anchor, the linchpin of the family, your female template at the tender age of seventeen is heartbreaking.
My thoughts are with you dearest Sue.
Names have been changed to protect privacy