Author whose son died 14 years ago has words of hope for those who have lost loved ones
Photo by Paola Chaaya on Unsplash

Few would argue that there's any loss more painful than the death of a child, and those who would argue would undoubtedly be wrong. So if anyone might have some words of wisdom about grief worth listening to, it's a mother who has lost one of her own children.

Author Clare Mackintosh is one of those mothers, and she offered some words of hope on Twitter—promises about what the future holds for those deep in new grief—and her post has resonated with people who have recently lost loved ones around the world.

Mackintosh wrote:

"My son died fourteen years ago today. If you're struggling with the loss of a loved one, I have some promises for you.

I promise this will not always be the first thing you think about in the morning.

I promise you won't always lie awake at night, sobbing until you can't breathe.

I promise you will not always feel that hard lump in your throat, like grief is a rock that cannot be moved. It can.

I promise those waves of grief that knock you off your feet will become smaller, less violent. You will be able to stand and let them wash around you, not over you.

I promise walking won't always feel like you're dragging your legs through treacle; breathing won't always be something you have to remember to do. You will do both these things effortlessly again.

I promise you won't always be winded by someone else's happiness - their social media updates and photographs. You will smile and feel glad that they have something so special, and that you once had it too.

I promise you will be able to say their name without crying. That you will share a memory and feel wistful; sad, but not broken.

I promise you will not always have to take the day off work on anniversaries, because you are unable to function. You will find something special to mark it, or you will treat it like any other day, and either is okay.

I promise it won't always hurt like this.

Fourteen years ago a woman made me these promises, and I didn't believe her. I sobbed silently as she told me how the years had healed her, and I thought she was wrong. My grief was different.

You'll think I'm wrong too, but in fourteen years' time - or twelve, or five, or nine... - you will realise the rock of grief in your throat has washed away, and you will make these promises to someone else.

Until then, be gentle on yourself. Grief can't be rushed, and this is a particularly hard year in which to suffer a loss. Much love to you. ❤️"

People flooded the post with messages of gratitude, and some people who are also farther down the road of grief offered some advice of their own.



There are hundreds of responses to the thread from people who shared their own experiences, and they are all worth reading. While everyone handles grief differently and in their own time, so many people described how their grief changed over time—or how they changed and grew around it—and their stories offer hope and insight to those who are wading through new, raw grief.

One of the most beautiful things about being human is that no matter what happens, there are always other people who have been where we are, felt what we're feeling, and experienced what we're experiencing. And one of the blessings of modern life is that it's easier than ever to find those people when we need them the most, to help us know that we're not alone and to reassure us that we won't be exactly where we are, feeling exactly what we're feeling, forever.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.