Elizabeth Edwards was a voice of compassion, forgiveness, wisdom and strength to bereaved parents around the world for several decades. All of us owe her a measure of gratitude for illuminating the world of what it means to lose a child and live on honorably.
I had the honor of meeting her last year as part of a panel discussion on grief led by Maria Shriver at The Governor’s Conference on Women in Long Beach California. Elizabeth was as grief literate as I had imagined but, even more so, she embodied a rare sense of warmth, grace and courage in the way she faced the subsequent losses in her life. I cherished our brief time together and will hold Elizabeth Edwards in my heart with great affection and respect always.
The public nature of Elizabeth’s passing will surely invoke great sorrow from those who share my respect and affection for her. But it will also open and reopen the doors to speculative commentary about her marriage, ex-husband, children and illness.
Taking “the high road” in our moment of sorrow will mean focusing on honoring this wonderful woman’s life. Not digging up dirt. Showing great concern for her children and family members means showing genuine compassion and respect, not judgment, gossip, blame, condemnation or projection. With the end of life comes the opportunity to either shut down and become bitter — or to turn our love for the deceased outward into the world in the form of good and honorable deeds of kindness.
Bless you, Elizabeth, from all of us at the Jenna Druck Center, where we will light a tall candle in your name and remember your courage always.
Dr. Ken Druck