”Would you know my name, If I saw you in heaven?” (Musician Eric Clapton, after the passing of his four year old son)
Paul, a 48 year old man, walked to the woods with a bottle of whiskey and his gun. He sat alone there and cried, with full intent to end his life - but Divinity intervened: Paul fell asleep, intoxicated. And when he awoke he found himself in the psychiatric hospital. When I first met Paul he was weeping intensely and grief stricken. He shared with me the worst psychic pain imaginable: the sudden and tragic death of his 25 year old son. Paul was sobbing now, talking nonstop through his tears and repeating himself: “My son, my son. Why? I could have helped him. Now I have nothing left. Please doctor, just let me die”. Paul desperately wanted to hold his son. He couldn’t stop himself from crying. He told me about his son, about the night of his son’s passing. And he told me about him again. And again, every day. Death is a mystery. To understand death we need to understand what life is. Our true self is that we each have a soul, a soul that never dies. If you’ve ever been in the room upon one’s passing, you can feel their soul, hovering there. Upon death, the soul is no longer ‘restricted’ to the body and begins it’s journey upwards. With the passing of a loved one, we have the opportunity to examine our own lives: What is our purpose? Why are we here? Some people will get a burst of energy in the midst of their grief, determined to carry on the legacy of their loved one. They may create charities in their memory. Or inspire others by recounting their loved one’s stories. I shared none of these thoughts with Paul. For Paul, the passing of his son was too recent and raw. Because death, especially the death of a child, is simply beyond human comprehension. There really is nothing one can say to explain away the pain of grieving. After all the attempts to make some sense of it all, the heart still cries. As it should. Every day with Paul, we sat together and talked. Sometimes there was silence. But often there were tears. And brief moments of smiles. I learned a lot about Paul’s son. But mostly I learned about Paul himself, his intense love and strength. His vulnerability.
He allowed me enter his world, to be present, to console, and to weep with him.