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.
My son died fourteen years ago today. If you’re struggling with the loss of a loved one, I have some promises for you.— Clare Mackintosh - author (@Clare Mackintosh - author)1607594812.0
"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.
@claremackint0sh You’re just learning to live alongside your grief instead of having to barrel through it every day… https://t.co/xFk1bT5Vhf— Portia Pan (@Portia Pan)1607606313.0
@conbrunstrom @claremackint0sh The passing of time and as those promises begin sometimes comes a guilt for feeling… https://t.co/aJNqEVguvC— Andy Picken (@Andy Picken)1607614678.0
@DrAnnBingham It’s perfect— Clare Mackintosh - author (@Clare Mackintosh - author)1607640615.0
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.
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