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Grief And Regret

April 5, 2022

Above is the front page of the Augusta Chronicle from April 9, 1976. I think it is (was?) a Southern custom of identifying the previous day’s deaths on the front page of the newspaper. You’ll see my dad’s name listed.

He was 53. Died of a heart attack as he was traveling to DC on business. He had spent the previous four days driving me to and from Charlottesville for a scholarship interview at UVa. I received the scholarship; he passed away before I found out.

This post is not really about me or my dad. It’s about my mom. Four months before my parents were going to be empty nesters my mom lost her spouse. She lived alone for the next 22 years, grieving for the loss of her husband. And I never once asked her if she wanted to talk about the pain she felt.

My mom was from that generation where everything was fine, a stiff upper limit. I did what I thought I should and came home diligently during school breaks and later after I had graduated. But we never talked about her pain — nor mine.

I am 62 years old now. I am embarrassed that I have never thought about my mom’s grief. It was only a comment from my sister about how she did not know the depth of our mom’s grief that got me thinking.

I can’t change the past. But I now know I can do better. And all it takes is a simple question based in curiosity and compassion — “Do you want to talk about how you feel?”

Thanks, Jacquie, for helping me become a better person.

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