Issue #254 / September 2023
My life has been crazy since my daughter was killed in December. Some days I love the world and other days I would love to cause an apocalypse, I feel at times like how can I grieve my loss and so many others have lost just as well, this group of survivors remorse, and I didn’t ask to join don’t know how to categorize it. Did you like the interview you gave (on CBS) about defiance, against grief, cause you gotta become a bad motherfucker to keep on living and make a change in this world, I believe it’s our turn whether we want it or not, gone are the days of sitting on the side-lines, I’m going to try and figure it out. Thank you for allowing this platform, I don’t know what to say I’m still a mess. I will check your book out and hopefully get some new view on this crazy thing called grief!
ANTOINETTE, NEW ORLEANS, USA
Your letter so powerfully embodies the extreme disorder that churns around a parent who has lost a child. I don’t know the circumstances of your daughter’s death but I can sense your rage at the injustice of it. I can also relate to the tremendous love you feel toward the world, regardless of your grief, or indeed because of it. A parent should never have to bury their child, it makes no sense, it sits outside the natural order of things, yet here we are, you and me, living within these ghastly vacuums left behind by those we have lost. I love your honesty in laying bare the biblical-sized fury we sometimes feel toward a world that has the audacity to keep on turning, regardless of our suffering. How dare the world be so beautiful, we think. These are the divergent feelings of grief.
Your righteous defiance will be so helpful to the many grieving parents who have tragically turned this anger upon themselves. I love your sentence, “I believe it’s our turn whether we want it or not, gone are the days of sitting on the side-lines, I’m going to try and figure it out.” For it is true, those who grieve know – they can apprehend the truth of the world because they have been as close to the great mystery as it is possible to be. We understand, in our blood and the blood of our children, that we are defenceless against the vagaries of the world, but that we all have the capacity for extraordinary resilience, especially when it is toughened in the furnace of our rage. We come to understand that rage and compassion are not opposites but manifestations of the same impulse, as you say so well, to change the world.
Antoinette, you have every right to be a mess, but let me say this – don’t be a mess all the time, because this planet needs people like you. We need fierce souls with flaming swords that lay open the world to the truth of things – our perilous and impermanent mutuality, our ferocious resilience, and our acute and heartbreaking preciousness. I love you for that.