When most of us suffer a loss as great as that of a mother, we are left to grieve without the eyes of the world on us.  We do not have to temper our emotions because we are in the privacy of our own homes, surrounded by the comfort and warmth of our family and friends.

This week as I watched the Olympic ice skating competition, I wondered how Canadian ice skater Joannie Rochette was going to be able to compete with the world watching.  Only a few days earlier, her mom died suddenly from a massive heart attack, just after her parents had arrived in Vancouver.  As she took to the ice and glided to center of the rink, my heart ached for her.  Rochette’s intense grief was palpable.  When the cameras panned to her father, he too, had the anguish of his wife’s death written all over his face.

Rochette skated with passion and did an incredible job, scoring a personal best.  I was so touched by her presence on the ice.  Silent courage and strength permeated her every move.  She was skating for her mom.  The tragedy of her mom not being there in the stands was almost too enormous to comprehend.

Equally hard to comprehend was the knowledge that she is only 24 years old and will have to live the rest of her life without her mom.  When Rochette finished her program, tears welled up in her eyes as she put her hand over her heart.  When she cried, I cried with her.  My daughter was watching with me and she was crying, too.  I hugged my daughter tightly and realized that part of my tears were because I missed my own mom.

As she skated off the rink, I was struck by Rochelle’s choice of costume.  It consisted of black sequins and a rose appliqué with the rose’s petals appearing to fall off.  It reminded me of one of my mom’s favorite songs, Bette Midler’s The Rose…

Some say love, it is a river that drowns the tender reed, some say love, it is a razor that leaves your soul to bleed. Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless aching need.  I say love, it is a flower, and you its only seed.

It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance.  It’s the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance.  It’s the one who won’t be taken, who cannot seem to give, and the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live.

When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long, and you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong, just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows lies the seed that with the sun’s love in the spring becomes the rose.

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Pamela Gabbay

Pamela Gabbay, M.A., FT, was awarded the Fellow in Thanatology by the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) and is a Certified Bereavement Counselor. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from California State University, San Bernardino and her M.A. in Psychology from Claremont Graduate University. Pamela is the Program Director of The Mourning Star Center for Grieving Children in Palm Desert, California and works extensively with grieving children, teens and their families. For more information, please visit www.mourningstar.org. In 2008, Pamela and the Mourning Star Center were featured on the National Hospice Foundation of America’s Bereavement Teleconference Living with Grief: Children and Adolescents. Pamela is the Camp Director for Camp Erin - Palm Springs, the first Camp Erin in California. Camp Erin is a free camp for grieving children and teens created in partnership with The Moyer Foundation. Pamela is also President of the California Chapter of the Association for Death Education and Counseling. ADEC So Cal is an organization dedicated to promoting excellence in death education. She is on the Board of Directors of the National Alliance for Grieving Children. Additionally, she is co-owner of www.GriefPosters.com a poster company that produces sensitive and educational grief-related posters. Pamela appeared on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart with Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley, to discuss Adult Children Losing Parents. To hear Pamela being interviewed on this show, click on the following link: www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley111308.mp

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