Colin Campbell says that the way our society treats grief—and people in grief—is cruel and backward, and it needs a radical reimagining. He, of all people, would know. Four years ago, Colin, his wife Gail, and their two teenage kids were driving to Joshua Tree, when they were T-boned by a drunk and high driver going 90 miles an hour. Colin and Gail survived. Their two children, Ruby and Hart, did not.
Thanks a million for this episode. The opportunities to hear a parent who’s had a child die are still fairly few and far between. It’s a hard conversation.
Our youngest son died in June 2018 by his own hand at 18. We’ve had an experience very similar to what Colin and Gail have had. We’ve not only had friends drift away but family, too. We’ve found that mentioning our son is a conversation stopper when we’d love nothing more than to talk about our son. I do think people are afraid I’m just going to crumble on the spot....and I might, for a minute. But that will be followed by something close to happiness while I tell the person all the great thing’s our boy brought to our lives.
I approached my grief in a way similar to Colin’s. I leaned in. William, that’s my son’s name, composed music on his computer and I set about compiling that. I pulled together all of his artwork and watched videos he made of himself singing. It was simultaneously painful and joyful. It’s helped me quite a bit. I still dig in even these 5+ years on.
Anyways, a small suggestion on what to say: if you knew the child, tell the parents what you appreciated about him or her. If you didn’t, ask the parent to tell you about their child.
I did not find the interview helpful as to what to do or say to a person in grief. Colin made it clear ya never know what mood he is gonna be in. That is why people avoid those in deep grief. Gosh with the opioid epidemic there are a lot of grieving parents.
My wife and I started fostering almost a year ago because we wanted to be a family and support system for older children aging out of the system. A therapist we know with a lot of experience with foster children told us yesterday exactly what Colin said here: that a lot of the older children would rather be alone and age out on their own because that’s what they are use to from their biological and foster families, being alone. I know that wasn’t the central topic of this interview, but the topic of fostering is front and center in our lives right now. And I do think it is beautiful that the idea was originally Ruby’s almost as if Colin and Gail are honoring the memories of their children by expanding their family to include children who have lost their own families in some fashion.
I am grateful for this topic. I especially liked hearing how the Jewish faith formalizes the practice of grief and letting go. I am using this podcast with my seniors as we explore John Donne's "Meditation 17" and "Death Be Not Proud" this week. Thank you for inviting Colin on the show, Bari. Especially now with the absolute tragedy in Israel. My heart just breaks for the Jewish people.
This was one of the better episodes of Honestly. I appreciated this interview and discussion and am going to buy Colin's book on Audible. I so understand the pain of grief and still feel the pain of losing my 13-year-old brother, 7 months of after his bar mitzvah, 41 years ago, after a car that my dad was driving was side-swiped by a young woman going through a red light, a half mile from my dad's home. The pain and grief for my parents as well as my sister and I were powerful and devastating and took many years to slightly subside. My dad also had incredible guilt, even though it wasn't his fault and it was just a random accident. I believe like Colin that this wasn't "meant to be" or God's plan, as some say. It was a freakish accident. Thanks again for this powerful, heartfelt, and insightful interview. It is comforting when others share their stories in this wide community of grief and loss.