June 02, 2006

earliest wounds

For Jonathan.

"For most people, death does not make an appearance until an individual has enjoyed a full life. We are spared having to deal with loss and tragedy until we are better able to handle the trauma of death. When people meet death in childhood, it marks them. Often, they change the way they understand their own lives, the way they perceive time, and the way they move through the life cycle. They also alter their view of death itself. Death is no longer a mere character in a story but a very real presence that has robbed them of something precious and dear.

"To say that one is marked by early loss may sound dramatic and perhaps extreme. Survivors of early loss do not 'look different' from the rest of us. Their loss is invisible and unseen by most of us. Yet it was surprising how many people I interviewed had come to live and share their lives with another survivor of early loss. It was as if each did indeed bear a mark perhaps only visible to another survivor, but a mark nonetheless recognizable and clear to one who had been through the same experience. In Ben Hecht's words, these were all people who had been 'to the edge of the world and looked over its last foot of territory into nothingness.'"

--The Loss That Is Forever: The Lifelong Impact of the Early Death of a Mother or Father, by Maxine Harris, Ph.D.

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