I cannot stop thinking about the sudden deaths of a daughter and mother, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. The mother’s death, only one day after the death of her daughter, shocks and stuns the world. Yet, there is a group of us who too easily understand Debbie’s agony to the point of death – and this group is mothers who have lost their children.
Both of these women’s deaths are tragic and I deeply hurt for their family and friends.
When I learned of Debbie’s passing, my immediate thought was “She died of a broken heart.” Then, I read that she had a stroke while discussing her daughter’s funeral plans and I immediately understood the strain of these moments. Her son said that the stress “was just too much.” I imagine her age and health played a role in her stroke, but losing Carrie was just impossible to bear.
Just too much for her to carry.
For losing a child is “perhaps the greatest sadness known in nature.”
I read this line on Facebook and it didn’t have an attribution, or I’d give the person credit. In my life, this statement proves real and true.
Debbie’s death is a tragically beautiful and powerful reminder of how deep a mother’s love is for her children. Her death confirms what we mothers, who have lost children, know – the loss of a child creates a heartbreak unlike any other.
As I read social media comments about Debbie’s death, many mothers don’t know if they could take the death of their child; it’s unnatural and unthinkable.
And some mothers, who have walked the valley of the shadow of death with their child, say they envy Debbie because she doesn’t have to live with the daily pain of losing her daughter. She is with her daughter for eternity. These are hard words for some people to hear and relate to, but are a real reaction for some mothers who have sons and daughters pass away.
From the moment my daughter was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I lived under a strain that is difficult to describe. I actually thought I was going to die from the heartache and pressure. The sorrow of seeing Leah suffer was painful to bear.
I prayed to God that He wouldn’t take me before Leah because, being in the late stage of cancer, she couldn’t bear the absence of her mother. It’s amazing what mothers can withstand for the sake of their children.
I survived my daughter’s death and am grateful, especially for my son, that I did. I had a great, great grandmother who lost four of her five children. She passed away of cholera upon the death of the last child. I imagine she was worn down, devastated and couldn’t take the agony of another loss.
My love for my daughter kept me going during her illness. Today, my love for my son, husband and people close to me keep me going.
I believe Debbie Reynold’s death shines a very public light on the power of a mother’s love for her child and the effects of grief. No matter how well a mother and child get along – whether the relationship is filled with joy or struggle – a mother’s love is like no other. Love is powerful and grief is one way of expressing deep love. (Of course, the deep emotions apply to a father’s love as well, but as a woman, I am sharing from a mother’s perspective.)
My hope is that by hearing Carrie and Debbie’s stories, people will grow in awareness, understanding and compassion toward mothers who lose their children to death.
Photo: Debbie Reynolds courtesy of Pixabay