The sorrow and anger that followed Kate’s death, however, pale next to the terrible yearning. “Sometimes I feel panic sweeping over me,” I wrote to a friend, “and I’m so overwhelmed with yearning for Kate that I don’t know how I’ll manage.”
I searched for “yearning” and “grief” on the Internet and found a Harvard Medical School study that concluded yearning after a loss is far more debilitating than sadness or depression. The study included people who had lost a husband or wife, a parent, or a brother or sister. I wrote the author, Dr. Holly Prigerson at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, to ask why parents who had lost children weren’t included. Losing a child, she told me, is so many “orders of magnitude worse” that it couldn’t be meaningfully compared to other losses.
On his third birthday without Kate, Steve and I were standing in our kitchen, crying, when he choked out these words: “It’s not that I want her back. It’s not that I need her back. It’s that I have to have her back.”
–Nancy Comiskey, in Indianapolis Monthly, on what she learned about grieving, 10 years after the death of her daughter.