The tragic news of performer Debbie Reynold’s death the day after Carrie Fisher’s, her famous daughter, illustrates the tremendous stress grief puts on loved ones left behind. People can indeed die of a broken heart.
According to a USAToday article, Reynold’s son said the stress of his sister’s death “was too much” for 84-year-old Reynolds. She reportedly suffered a stroke amid preparations for the funeral of the daughter who the world knows best as Princess Leia in Star Wars.
The late afternoon sun beamed down on us through the clouds of the incoming front as my husband bent down on his knee and asked me to marry him. I giggled. “Of course,” I said.
That happened eight years ago today on the roof of the historic Memphis Peabody Hotel. What’s a happy engagement story doing in a blog about losing parents? I think this story illustrates a coping model that I followed without knowing it.
I once wrote that each Christmas gets better and better after losing someone you love to the grave. I meant well, but I was wrong.
Stay tuned. There’s hope in this story.
Last year, a great pall fell upon me for reasons I cannot pinpoint. I was unhappy with Christmas. Go away. Come back next year. My grief surged.
Not that it was as bad as the first Christmases. Those would be the ones right after my father died in 2006 and right after my mother died in 2009. I was better last year than those years, but my holiday grief didn’t steadily improve.
I realize now that some Christmases aren’t going to be as good, or better, than others. That’s true whether you have had a death in the family or not, so certainly it is true when you do.
I’m trying to figure out how to put my new life together. It’s been eight Christmases since I lost my mother and 11 since I lost my dad, and I still am trying to figure out this “new normal.” Especially this time of year.
Maybe it’s like following a recipe. I don’t mean that grief is about precise steps that always lead to a certain ending like a great tasting dish. I mean that finding a new normal is about mixing ingredients. Mixing what was and what is.
Myth causes us to judge ourselves. It also causes others to judge us. When we don’t measure up to what our myths tell us, we think we’re broken. We try to fix something that doesn’t need fixing. Here are five myths that need snuffing out of the grief story. Read more