a magnificent book about love + grief

I am a blind woman recalling colour, I am the amputee who still believes that she can feel each shin. All that yearning! I was gutted: I longed for him to exist not only so that he could guide me, but so that I could love and be in turn loved by him. Forgetful wish.

My father had always been that place to which I could return.

I sought his voice in silence, chased his shadow through the dawn. Mourners depend on such implausibility for sustenance. It was a case of separating smoke from air and air from smoke: circular endeavours designed only to lead me to myself. Anything to distract me from the truth. My intellect reconstructed him but the experience was lost and so I valiantly incorporated that loss into my reconstruction - again, so circular.

When my fabled stepfather gripped my throat and smilingly tried to choke me, all I could think of as I kicked and struggled was my father. There is such sorrow in knowing that he will never see me as a woman. There is such sorrow in knowing that he will never again share my life. There is a world of sorrow in relinquishing such love. Grief is a sphere.

- from The Pure Weight of the Heart, by Antonella Gambotto-Burke

mom's last laugh

by Robin Lee Shope

Consumed by my loss, I didn't notice the hardness of the pew where I sat. I was at the funeral of my dearest friend, my mother. She finally had lost her long battle with cancer. The hurt was so intense, I found it heard to breathe at times.

Always supportive, Mother clapped loudest at my school plays, held a box of tissues while listening to my first heartbreak, comforted me at my father's death, encouraged me in college, and prayed for me my entire life.

When Mother's illness was diagnosed, my sister had a new baby and my brother had recently married. so it fell to me, the twenty-seven-year old middle child without entanglements, to take care of her. I counted it an honor. "What now Lord?" I asked sitting in church.

My life stretched out before me like an empty abyss.

My brother sat stoically with his face toward the cross while clutching his wife's hand. My sister sat slumped against her husband's shoulder, his arms around her as she cradled their child. All so deeply grieving, no one noticed I sat alone. My place had been with our mother, preparing her meals, helping her walk, taking her to the doctor, seeing to her medication, reading the Bible together. Now she was with the Lord.

My work was finished, and I was alone.

I heard a door open and slam shut at the back of the church. Quick footsteps hurried along the carpeted floor. An exasperated young man looked around briefly and then sat next to me. He folded his hands and placed them on his lap. His eyes were brimming with tears. He began to sniffle.

"I'm late," he explained though no explanation was necessary.

After several eulogies, he leaned over and commented, "Why do they keep calling Mary by the name of 'Margaret?"

"Because that was her name, Margaret. Never Mary. No one called her Mary," I whispered.

I wondered why this person couldn't have sat on the other side of the church. He interrupted my grieving with his tears and fidgeting. Who was this stranger anyway?

"No, that isn't correct," he insisted, as several people glanced over at us whispering, "Her name is Mary, Mary Peters."

"That isn't who that is."

"Isn't this the Lutheran church?"

"No, the Lutheran church is across the street."

"Oh." "I believe you're at the wrong funeral, Sir."

The solemnity of the occasion mixed with the realization of the man's mistake bubbled up inside me and came out as laughter. I cupped my hands over my face, hoping it would be interpreted as sobs. The creaking pew gave me away. Sharp looks from other mourners only made the situation seem more hilarious. I peeked at the bewildered, misguided man seated beside me. He was laughing, too, as he glanced around, deciding it was too late for an uneventful exit. I imagined Mother laughing. At the final "Amen," we darted out a door and into the parking lot.

"I do believe we'll be the talk of the town," he smiled.

He said his name was Rick and since he had missed his aunt's funeral, asked me out for a cup of coffee. That afternoon began a lifelong journey for me with this man who attended the wrong funeral, but was in the right place.

A year after our meeting, we were married at a country church where he was the assistant pastor. This time we both arrived at the same church, right on time. In my time of sorrow, God gave me laughter. In place of loneliness, God gave me love. This past June we celebrated our twenty-third wedding anniversary.

Whenever anyone asks us how we met, Rick tells them, "Her mother and my Aunt Mary introduced us."

2001 Chicken Soup Enterprises, Inc.

Grief -different experiences, different expressions
Anger + depression
Trauma + recovery
Illness: a new perspective
Suicidal urges
Learn more about Antonella Gambotto-Burke ...
A healthy life
The healing power of hope
In debt?
The laughter page
Find your own North Star
Optimism - the key
How to feel better about yourself
Feel like a hug?
An inspiring interview with Louise Hay

Message board for survivors of murder - NOW!
Scroll down this page for excellent message boards on losing your beloved - NOW!
Buy How to Recover From Grief
Create a memorial for your beloved
National Center for Victims of Crime
Neighbours who Care
Compassionate Friends
Free memorial page for your murdered beloved
Great free guided audio online relaxation exercises
Message boards for all survivors - siblings, parents, grandparents - online NOW!
Crisis intervention
Overcoming Sleep Problems, by the father of a murdered girl
Helping Someone When a Loved One has been Murdered
Excellent books that deal with those who are murdered
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation
Why the death penalty is no solution
Suggestions for Survivors of Murder
Compassionate Friends
Survivors' newsletter
Trauma and Grief