en

Suleika Jaouad

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    The friend I could unapologetically talk to about everything was gone. But gone where?
    And why?
    Grief is a ghost that visits without warning. It comes in the night and rips you from your sleep. It fills your chest with shards of glass. It interrupts you mid-laugh when you’re at a party, chastising you that, just for a moment, you’ve forgotten. It haunts you until it becomes a part of you, shadowing you breath for breath.
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    gainst all odds, they persevere, becoming better, braver for their battle scars. Once victory has been secured, they return to the ordinary world transformed, with accrued wisdom and a renewed appreciation for life. For the past few years, I’ve been bombarded with this narrative, observing it in movies and books, fundraising campaigns and get-well cards.
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    Taking Melissa’s ashes to the place she loved most doesn’t lessen the pain of losing her, but it has shown me a way that I might begin to engage with my grief. It has introduced me to the role of ritual in mourning
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    But now, I’m not so sure, because cancer does a weird thing to you. It takes who you are and what you think you know and throws that all in the trash.”
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    We call those who have lost their spouses “widows” and children who have lost their parents “orphans,” but there is no word in the English language to describe a parent who loses a child. Your children are supposed to outlive you by many decades, to confront the burden of mortality only by way of your dying. To witness your child’s death is a hell too heavy for the fabric of language. Words simply collapse.
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