Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Maria Shriver and Friends on Grief

Here are some snippets from various bloggers and the CNN report on the Women's Conference 2009 held two days ago in Long Beach, California. This was from a round table discussion on Grief, Healing and Resilience:

"Thousands of women in the arena quietly wept as Maria described her ongoing and deeply painful walk through grief from the death of her beloved mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, eight weeks ago, followed by the death of her larger-than-life uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy.When Shriver finished, she introduced the rest of the “grief panel” to the audience. Susan St. James, actress and entrepreneur, lost her son in a plane accident. He was 14 years old. Elizabeth Edwards, senior fellow, Center for American Progress, lost her son in a car accident. He was 16. And Lisa Niemi, widow of actor Patrick Swayze, recently lost her husband and best friend of 34 years to pancreatic cancer, less than two months ago. "

"The conversation flowed as each woman offered simple, but profound descriptions of their journey through grief. Susan St. James said she wondered if she would always think of herself as “the mother of a dead child.” Lisa Niemi described her sadness as being on a cellular level. Elizabeth Edwards noted that it was important for people to talk about her son and to keep his memory alive. “He didn’t just disappear from the Earth.” "

"Describing her feelings about their deaths and the "tsunami of grief" that has followed, Shriver told the crowd: "Grief cracks your heart into little pieces and that hurts, big time, big time. It's hard to concentrate, it's hard to see, its hard to feel, it's even hard to breathe." Despite how put-together she may appear on the outside, Shriver said, "Every minute of every day I can feel my broken heart. I tell all of those close to me, 'Don't worry, I'm fine, really, I am.' ... The real truth is, I'm not fine. The real truth is that my mother's death has brought me to my knees." "

"When the grief takes you, it's like your body is not your own," Niemi, who was married to actor Patrick Swayze for 34 years, said during the round table discussion. "I'm just going with the flow. I know I have to go through it". She said the loss "is like an animal all of its own" and the sadness could be felt "on a cellular level."

"Though she kept telling him, "I love you, I love you," and never left his side, Lisa admits, "I've spent two thirds of my life with him ... My regret is that I didn't tell him that I loved him enough over that entire 34 years."
"I am so grateful for what I had and my connection to him, and part of me believes that I will see him again," said Niemi, her voice breaking. "And I'm just going to have to go on until then.""

"Kelly (Preston Travolta) called to say it was just too painful for her to talk about Jett," said Shriver. "She said the grief was still too debilitating for her. And I totally understood."


"We all hope that this panel will help the grief-stricken among us to see that there is light at the end of what seems like an endless tunnel," said Shriver. "It is our hope that this conversation will give anyone out there dealing with a broken heart or a shattered soul a sense that you are not alone. Because you are not."


"There was something sobering and cathartic about this afternoon’s session. Yes, it is hard to talk about grief. As Maria Shriver noted in her comments, “In the United States, we are grief illiterate.” Many of us get tongue-tied when we try to offer comfort to someone who has lost a loved one. But through conversation, compassion, and caring, we can help each other through the very darkest of passages that ultimately, each of us will experience."

(From an unidentified blogger who attended the conference.)


Anonymous said...

Again tears! I can honestly say I didn't really pay much attention to
others that had a loss, especially
children until it happened to me.
Now it seems endless with others expressing how they honestly feel.
I am just so blessed to have this blog to share and read even though
I know it comes from your loss of dear Joey. I pray for you all the time and so so much feel what is happening with you both. Some days Nick and I look at each other and start crying. It does not consume our day but the loss is ever present. Love Sharon

Kerrie said...

I was so glad to find the Women's conference update here. This subject is very raw for me right now, as I lost my 7 year old son just over a month ago. Grief-stricken doesn't begin to describe the loss of a child. I have no one to talk to, so it's good to have connections like this. I wish everyone who's suffered the loss of a child some peace eventually. xxx Kerrie

karen gerstenberger said...

Thank you for posting this. I was unaware that this was taking place. It sounds as if it may have a profound and positive impact on everyone who hears/reads it, and I pray that this will be so. Grief is ignored in our culture, which is's part of life, as we know only too well.

Anonymous said...

There isn't one single minute that goes through the day that I don't think about my kids and I haven't experienced your grief.

Karen you know I live life through every ounce of my being. What in this world would I do if this were to happen to me. That scares me. I'm afraid not to read your blog. I'm afraid to take you for granted. I'm afraid not to respect your grieving. I'm afraid to go to bed and not pray for you. God has brought you in to my world for a purpose and this post for a purpose. To my thoughts for a purpose and to my very emotional world for a purpose.

So I feel this with all my heart as I know you suspected I would.