About this blog

My only daughter's name is Clea. Clea was six years and nine months old and she was enjoying a family holiday in Samoa when the ocean surged as a wall, ten metres high, and drowned her. Many other people died that morning of 29 September 2009.
The other four members of her family survived the tsunami.
Life has never been the same since. It will never be the same. This blog features memories, reflections, poetry, etc...
Just let me stay with her under this moon,
hold her in my arms, spin her in the air,
with my dear daughter in some timeless swoon.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

A scream that gets drowned in a void

A rare insight into parental grief from a fiction writer.

“No one ever thinks of what a violation of the natural order one's child's death means until they have a child themselves. For a parent, there is no greater experience of disorder than their child's death. Suddenly the hours break down, night suppresses day, blood crystallises into wounding needles. Theirs is a scream that gets drowned in a void, a grief whose venom is like no other. Their world shatters, like a mirror on which their image had been reflecting. […]

I ventured into the notion of my daughters' death as if into a nightmare which ultimately was but an exorcism. “If I imagine it, it won't happen, because fiction never ever mixes up with life”, I would tell myself by way of relief. But the nightmare lasted a few years, the years I needed so as to assimilate the fact that, if death happened, it would be an unavoidable reality. I cannot say that I prayed, although I was very close to doing so. The gesture with which I rejected such a recourse was, I think, what brought me back to serenity. No one is the keeper of their future, or at least, no one can say they are until they overtake it and are able to hide that future within their own life, like a part of their own selves. That is why I thought that, if at some point in time I suffered the misfortune of losing one of my daughters, my problem would not be to lose her, but rather worse, to accept my life without her. However, I didn't feel that way about Clara, my wife. Clara's death, just like my own would have to be for her, was a natural event, within the natural order of things, like leaves falling from deciduous trees every autumn. Loneliness, loss, grief…, these would then be the consequences of compliance with one of the laws of life. But a child's death leaves the parent suspended between two voids, a before and an after, and loneliness, grief and loss become an unnatural horror where all hope and all incentive are consumed in themselves, without any support at all, without any consolation.”

Jose Maria Guelbenzu, El amor verdadero [True Love], p.549-50. My own translation.


  1. "...without any consolation" sums it up perfectly.

    Thank you for translating and sharing this.

    1. Thanks for reading, too. I find the word "void" very apt because of the double meaning it has. It is not only the void our child's death creates in our lives, but it is also the void others create around us and our grief. Both voids collide within the grieving parent, and both are quite devastating, each in their own way.

      Thank you so much for being there.

  2. I feel as if I "know" Clea a little, through your blog and Clea's mother's blog. Your eternal love for her and her innocent sweetness (and fun-loving silliness) shine through, so much that I, too, feel sad for the loss of Clea and wish that I had known her.
    In coping with the tragic death of my son and the void that surrounds me, I find myself in a constant state of turmoil and restlessness. The purpose and meaning of my life as I have known them for 24 years have disappeared and I am seeking a new balance and the occasional moment of peace.
    I am learning that one of the few ways to do this is by connecting with other people, mostly parents who are experiencing a similar grief.
    So your blog is very meaningful and helpful to me and I'm sure to others as well.


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