Monday, April 20, 2015

Dear Kate: Living with Grief by Nancy Comiskey

This article had me glued until the end, reading it on a sleepy Sunday morning.

It is the most powerful account of grief  - and specifically - the death of a child. Not much (that I can see) is written about the deep and cutting grief of losing your son or daughter.

There isn't even a word for it. A child that loses both parents is an orphan. A husband who loses a wife is a widower. A wife who loses a husband is a widow.

I have included an excerpt here, which you can continue reading in link below.I have included it on this blog page as I can relate to the intense, still ongoing grief of losing my mother. Grief comes in waves, and grief is different for everyone. I do believe that losing a child is a grief like no other. Read on and share if you like. (Photo below of Nancy and her husband, and their son and family today).

Dear Kate: Living with Grief, by Nancy Comiskey

Following our daughter’s death, my husband and I saw no end to the grief. Yet we have somehow discovered meaning, hope, and even joy after life’s most terrible loss.

One morning in early June 2004, I peeked into the room where my 23-year-old daughter, Kate, was still curled up in the white wrought-iron bed she had slept in as a child. I paused for a moment and gazed at her lovely face, framed by wild, curly hair that spread out like seaweed across the pillow.

Standing there, I said to myself, as I sometimes did, I could not draw another breath if anything happened to this child.

Five months later in Bloomington, as Kate drove to Indian Creek High School to teach freshman English, a 45-year-old man high on opiates and cocaine crashed into her Honda Civic. In the emergency room, a nurse snipped off two tangled locks of her chestnut hair for me. Two days later, when I gently washed them in our bathroom sink, the water turned pink with her blood.

Yet I did draw another breath. And one after that. And one after that.

On Kate’s first birthday after her death, I wrote her a long letter. I planned to burn it and put the ashes in the stone wall my husband, Steve, was building in her memory at our cottage in Maine. But at the last minute I decided to make a copy. Every birthday since then, I’ve written her another letter, telling her about births and deaths, marriages and breakups, kindnesses and disappointments—but also about everyday things like a new kind of Friendster called Facebook, the YouTube honey badger, and the antics of her little Lab mix, Lola.

Ten years have passed since I last brushed Kate’s hair from her cheek. I’m not the same person I was then, and I know now I never will be. But I do the best I can with the life I have now. A year after her death, I wrote about my daughter’s too-short life in “Kate’s Story” inIndianapolis Monthly. I had “no brilliant insights on healing and hope,” I said then. Nine years later, I’m sharing the story of what I’ve learned since, along with passages from those birthday letters to Kate. If my experience helps someone better understand the loss of a child, if it offers hope to those facing challenges of their own, then Kate’s life continues to have meaning. And that is a gift I can still give her.

Read the rest of the article here on the Indianapolis Monthly site.

Photos of Nancy's daughter Kate below. Rest in peace, Kate. Nancy - what a woman. You will help so many people.

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