Posted January 16, 2011 by Claire Bidwell Smith
I have a pretty personal essay up over on Courtney Kendrick's blog. It's about how all the loss I've experienced has affected my ideas about the afterlife. You can read it here.
Dear Girls: On Half a Lifetime Without My Mother
Dear Vera & Jules: Think of Me as Every Place
On Grief and Healing
Filed under: Death, Grief, Loss, Love, My Dad, My Mom by Claire Bidwell Smith
I loved this essay. While I am a person with firm beliefs about the afterlife you made me wonder how those beliefs would be tested if I lost as much as you have.
Comment by Katie L. on January 16, 2011 at 8:07 am
Thanks for writing this. I need to read exactly this today.
Comment by Casey on January 16, 2011 at 8:23 am
I just wanted to tell you how much I loved reading your words. All of which, put so well. Thank you. I feel somedays you read things you needed to read that day, that moment.
Comment by Addy on January 16, 2011 at 8:55 am
This was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.
Comment by Emma on January 16, 2011 at 9:36 am
It’s so nice to hear from someone else who doesn’t have clear thoughts about the afterlife. I’ve been struggling to figure out what I believe fora long time. Sometimes it’s easier to not think about it.
Comment by Jules on January 16, 2011 at 10:29 am
Beautifully said..thank you sharing!
Comment by Chris on January 16, 2011 at 11:04 am
Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 16, 2011 at 12:44 pm
I agree — its definitely easier sometimes not to think about it all. But I feel like leaving something like this unpondered can have negative effects.
Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 16, 2011 at 12:45 pm
I know that feeling myself. Thank you for your kind comment.
Oh good, youre welcome!
Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm
I envy your firm beliefs a bit! Thank you for the comment!
I’ve lost several family members over the past year and your words truly touched me. I have no beliefs and no idea what I even want to believe regarding life after death. I’m hoping I can come to a peaceful place during all of this. I’m more of a lurker than a regular commenter but I wanted you to know how beautiful your words were.
Comment by Mel on January 16, 2011 at 1:19 pm
i just came from cjane’s site. your post was absolutely lovely and brought tears to my eyes. what a good writer you are; clear and comforting with your genuine words. i especially love how you came to the knowledge that we aren’t these bodies. thank you for sharing. i believe you’ll be with them again. in fact, i know it in my heart of hearts. God be with you. xo.
Comment by marta on January 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm
You have such a wonderful way of putting it. I feel much the same way about our connection to one another, which is a very yogic philosophy, I suppose. So too the belief that ‘we are not these bodies’.
Thank you for sharing. This makes me look forward to reading your book even more than ever.
Comment by Sophie on January 16, 2011 at 2:21 pm
Thank you for sharing your thoughts over at C. Jane’s. Sorry for the loss of your friend, Mom, and Dad. I, too, lost my Mom to cancer ten years ago. I still miss her almost everyday but I have a firm belief that I will see her again one day.
Congrats on your book!
Comment by Lesa on January 16, 2011 at 3:43 pm
I loved your essay, and am glad to have found your blog!
Comment by maggie may on January 16, 2011 at 5:17 pm
Thank you for your comforting thoughts, Claire.
My first grandchild was stillborn just before Christmas. My heart has been broken in a way I could never have imagined. This has left a hole in my life so large I can’t yet begin to measure its affect.
Your belief that we have already met before has given me a certain comfort and peace.
When I think my daughter is able to take in your comforting hypothesis, I’ll share this column with her.
Thank you again, Claire.
Comment by Brenda on January 16, 2011 at 5:23 pm
I need to tell you how much I loved your post . . . and love you for working with hospice. I lost my father when I was 12. I, like you, did not have definite beliefs about death at that time. It was hard. I became active in the Mormon church a few years after that, and my beliefs changed — and gave me hope.
Five years ago this very week, my mother died of cancer. Hospice came during the last few days to be with her, my brother, sister and aunt. It was a greater blessing than I could ever imagine — having hospice there. I know that people who work in that capacity are special beings. They see things that most of the world doesn’t get to see. The final farewell between loved ones and the special experiences that come with those good byes.
I want you to know how much people like me, appreciate people like you — people who hold hands and comfort those who are suffering with loss.
Comment by crystal b on January 16, 2011 at 5:51 pm
Thanks for your post at C.Jane. My mother died exactly one year ago and I needed this and the tears today.
Comment by Vanalee on January 16, 2011 at 6:23 pm
Wow. To have found your blog, your words and your brave look into a subject that has vexed me all my life was such a gift today, a day that has just ended after spending it with my father. I am 43, and I am still such a daddy’s girl. My father had a massive heart attack 5 months ago, and I almost lost him. Matter of fact, the doctors still are not quite sure how he is still alive as blocked as he is. I moved back to Tennessee to be nearer to him exactly two weeks before the attack. I haven’t lived closer then 200 miles from him in 15 years. I felt a strong desire to be close to him, can’t explain why or how I intuitively knew it was time. I don’t know how much time we have together. I feel incredibly blessed to be in a position where I can drop what I am doing when he wants to fish or just chill together. We are sharing more with each other about our lives and thoughts and dreams and wishes right now then in my entire lifetime. And we have always been close. Thank you and congratulations on your book deal. I can’t wait to read it.
Comment by Stacie on January 16, 2011 at 6:47 pm
No matter how hard the experience is, you will never regret choosing to be closer to your dad at this time. Wishing you lots of strength on your journey! Thank you for your kind words.
Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 16, 2011 at 8:21 pm
I think tears are a sign of strength. Hope you had a peaceful day.
Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 16, 2011 at 8:23 pm
Hospice is amazing, isnt it? I feel so lucky to be working with such an amazing group of people, with such a beautiful mission. Im so glad you had such a good experience.
Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 16, 2011 at 8:28 pm
Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 16, 2011 at 8:30 pm
Thank you so much!
Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 16, 2011 at 8:33 pm
Oh, I cant even imagine how hard that must be for you. Wishing you and your family so much peace and strength.
Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 16, 2011 at 8:38 pm
Thank you, Sophie! Thats so nice of you to say!
Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 16, 2011 at 8:39 pm
Oh, thank you. Those are such kind words. Thank you for reading.
Well, thank you for delurking. Wishing you peace along your path.
Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 16, 2011 at 8:40 pm
Lovely as always Claire. You have this way of putting into words the struggles that so many of us face. Thank You again for sharing.
Comment by Wendy on January 16, 2011 at 9:29 pm
The brain is not really equipped to deal with the loss associated with death. It is no surprise that we all grapple with the idea of what happens to our loved ones, and I have shared in that struggle for many years. By the time my mother died two years ago, I had let go of all my beliefs and had to face the adopted idea that she was just gone–for GOOD. I kept a lock of her hair so that, though she was cremated, there would always be a physical reminder of her with me. When she died, she was already gone, as she had been suffering from Alzheimer’s for three years. As her brain functions deteriorated, so did her personality and essence. She was reduced to being a body long before her brain finally gave up.
I would love more than anything to think that she is looking over my shoulder right now, but I simply cannot believe that just so that I have some comfort. The difficulty of her being gone informs my life in a very valuable way–knowing that someday I too will be gone. In other words, this is it. This idea, based on science, and not belief, results in a greater appreciation of life than I ever had when I used to believe in an afterlife. After all, if it is better after we die, why worry about making it great now? Rubbish.
I miss my mother daily–every moment. And yet I would miss Life more if I did not have it. There is enough mystery in my very presence here to last me for a lifetime–I don’t need to create more mystery–I am surrounded by it in nature.
Comment by tony davis on January 17, 2011 at 8:26 am
Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 17, 2011 at 9:11 am
Profoundly beautiful post Claire and I love the last line.
I am a person who has not experienced loss yet, though my own father has not been in my life, which I would describe as an unclear loss.
Comment by Christine on January 17, 2011 at 2:03 pm
Such beautiful sentiment. I would love to share it on my blog. Such amazing words. A beautiful way to try and experience such sadness. Thank You
Comment by Cassie Jebber on January 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm
It was beautifully written and filled with peace and grace. I’m so happy I found it.
Comment by Jennie on January 17, 2011 at 8:33 pm
Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 17, 2011 at 8:34 pm
Thank you for your kind words!
Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 17, 2011 at 8:36 pm
Hmm, thats absolutely a loss in a lot of ways. Otherwise it sounds like you are quite blessed. Thanks for your kind words, Christine!
Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 17, 2011 at 8:38 pm
Oh, thanks for your lovely comment Tony. I agree completely — the not knowing just enhances what I do know, which is how amazing life is right now.
Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 17, 2011 at 8:43 pm
Your post on C.Jane reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by C.S. Lewis…
“You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”
I truely believe we are all souls here for a time having a body.
Having lost two grandparents this last year, I am grateful for the beautiful care they recieved at hospice, and the truely loving and thoughtful staff they had there.
Thanks for the beautiful article.
Comment by Windy on January 18, 2011 at 12:54 am
I LOVED it…and have saved your blog in my favs. Thank you.
Comment by Sheri on January 18, 2011 at 7:59 am
Aw, thank you!
Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm
Such a beautiful quote. Thank you for posting it!
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