Comfort: A Journey Through Grief by Ann Hood - Chapter One
*Now, just a warning: My life tends to be an open book. It's a gamble because it makes you vulnerable to others and it's not always safe. However, to live any other way means something in me is is discontent and so I take the risk and share my journey. Some people don't think that's a good idea. They think others will read it and wonder what's behind it all. They think people would get the wrong impression of me and judge me. Many don't want their bosses or people from their work knowing such personal things about them. For me, I don't mind. If you read through this and you take anything away from it that helps you in your journey, then the risk is worth it.
The author has lost a daughter named Grace. This part of the book is filled with all the "helpful" things people say to you when you've suffered a traumatic loss...and the answers in the author's mind that negate them. What can you possibly say to a person who has suffered such a loss? Nothing. I can tell this is going to be an intimate look at loss with this author. I'm already wanting to read on.
Chapter 1: Losing Grace
While reading this first chapter I am struck by the emotion that jumps off the pages, grabbing me, dragging me into the scene. Little Grace has died within a day and a half after breaking her arm and getting a bad strep infection. The author writes in a way that is vivid and painful. As a mother I'm instantly in that place, putting my own children in that space where Grace is and quickly swiping that thought away.
She talks about how she would hear a voice saying something and realizing it was her own voice. It speaks to a sense of unreality, like a bad dream you can't wake up from. Her physical reaction, normal I'm sure, in the circumstances, reminds me of the affects of adrenaline I had when my mom had her stroke and we took her to the hospital. Afterwards, you're so exhausted, but in the midst of all the trauma your energy soars.
I want to say I can't imagine what she went through. That would be a lie. I imagine things like that all the time. Whenever I feel anxiety and depression creeping up on me I imagine all sorts of terrible things. When I'm driving home in the car I think perhaps the house exploded and my family is dead. When I walk into a public bathroom I'm afraid to open the cubicle door - there might be a dead child hung up on the hook. Terrible. They're visions I've had when I'm at the point I need to see the doctor.
Being an analytical person, the logic in me says right away that's silly, there's nothing that's happened, don't be stupid just open the cubicle. However, the imagination of a creative person can be like a giant imax screen with colours of the rainbow jumping out at you. I read an interesting article in The Atlantic about the creative brain and mental illness - here - and I was surprised that this runs in families. Often the creative person will suffer a less severe mental illness, but others in the family may have it worse, without the creativity. There is a link somehow.
I don't think the experience of losing my mom was anything like losing a child. Although, whenever I would think about losing my mom before it actually happened, anxiety started and I wouldn't be able to control it. That was my first bout with it and I was unprepared for how I would cope with it. I think losing a child would bring with it a greater sense of tragedy. Your children are supposed to outlive you. Parents pass away. My mom lived to almost 89 years. She had a long and good life. It was expected. Anticipated.
We have friends who live with the frightening thought of losing their child. Their son, Jesse, had a brain tumour that was cancerous and it morphed into an even more frightening kind of cancer. It's been removed successfully, but he still has a very high risk it will come back. How they cope is crazy. I don't know if I could get through it. They write about it on their blog, here.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this book. It's drawn me in and I'm tempted to read it in one go. I'm going to resist that urge as I want to savour it and remember it so I'm going to take a bit of time to do this. (You may see more than one chapter posted in a day).
The next chapter is called "Knitting Lessons" so I know I already like this author.