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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less