have all heard stories of the many ways people
commemorate someone lost to them: setting up
a foundation to raise money for research into
the cancer that killed their wife, lobbying
for laws to be changed, cycling the continent
to raise awareness of the disease that claimed
The death of someone close can bring many of
us deeper into life . For the gift of that,
we want to honour not only their life but what
they have shown us through their death. Only
when I was in grief myself did I fully understand
this need to make meaning from loss. I needed
to express the way grief had changed me.
We cannot control fate; we can
only control how we respond to it. Opening myself
to the gifts of Layla’s death was one
way to make it bearable and to honour all that
she had bestowed on me.
Making meaning does not have to involve some
grand act. I made a documentary and wrote a
book because that’s what I knew how to
do. Making meaning can be a private affair,
a small gesture, like planting a tree or gluing
things into a scrapbook. One guy who emailed
me about losing a child built a house as a memorial.
‘It’s a guy thing,’ he said.
For others, it could be the tiniest gesture,
like feeding a stray dog in honour of the one
Thin Pink Line
- October 2000