Grief and Optimism
Page in Development with Trish Vejby, Christy Roberts, Susan Sly and Victor Perton
How does an optimist deal with grief? A good question from Christy Roberts.
Christy wrote, "When my cheeky, charismatic,18 year old son Aaron died suddenly in a car accident last year, it felt like the very foundations of my world collapsed from underneath my feet.
"My life as I knew it irrevocably shifted in the blink of an eye, one fateful accident, one phone call.
"It's been nothing short of a devastatingly tough journey, a road that I will continue to travel and navigate throughout the rest of my life.
"I have learnt many things."
Marc and I met by chance over five years ago, when he overheard my distinctly Trinidadian accent in our neighbourhood.
Our banter quickly evolved into a beautifully honest friendship that evolved around cocktails, great local food, and professional interests.
Marc has been steadfast in his support through my first year of grief. Even though much has changed for him since COVID-19, he has continued to support me as if nothing has changed.
While he walks through the fire of human suffering every day as a front-line doctor, through some alchemy of optimism, humility, and compassion, he continues to inspire my everyday life.
"I am an eternal Optimist. No matter how rough it gets, there's always light somewhere. The rest of the sky maybe cloudy, but that little bit of blue draws me on."
"Grief is tremendous, but love is bigger. You are grieving because you loved truly."
"There is considerable evidence that optimism, the predisposition to have generalized favorable expectancies for the future, is associated with numerous desirable outcomes. Few studies have examined the association of optimism with emotional distress following the death of a loved one. Doing so is important, because optimism may be an important target for interventions for post-loss psychopathology."
I have always considered myself to be an incurable optimist. Incurable, because no matter when bad things happen, I tend to look on the bright side by default. But how do you find the bright side of things after the unthinkable happens? After your child dies—how can any form of happiness exist beyond that reality? When your world goes dark after someone you love dies, it’s hard to believe that joy will ever exist again. One year ago today, my daughter Aurora was stillborn at twenty weeks, two days. I left that hospital empty-handed, and I was sure that the optimist within me had been left behind too.
But I was wrong.
After I began to clear myself from the debris of baby loss, there it was. There was that optimism. It came in small doses at first, but then it grew bigger and bigger. I noticed that my thoughts were shifting from the lone reality that my child had died, to questioning that an untimely death could not be the singular defining aspect of my daughter’s brief life. She was more than just a baby who had died; she was a baby whose whole life had been enveloped in unconditional love and happiness; she had known a life that was free from pain and fear.
When that first glimmer of optimism was ignited, it grew like wildfire that couldn’t be tamed. In the weeks after her death, I began to see the world differently. I began to see that my daughter hadn’t left behind an empty and hallow world; she had filled my life with colors I have never seen before. Being pregnant with her was one of the happiest times of my life, so I tell myself that this life, this life that I am now living without her, can also be full of joy because of the simple fact that she existed.
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