In her email, my friend named it “the narcissism of grandmothers”. No one talks about this source of real pain. For whatever reason, the joy of becoming a grandmother often seems to overtake our capacity for compassion.
My friend spoke of another friend, who had lost two daughters in a terrible accident in the early 80s. The remaining sister was so devastated that she was unable to sustain a relationship until after her childbearing years. The mother’s grief remains incapacitating at times and was especially acute when a group of “friends”, as they became grandmothers, started chattering about their grandchildren, completely oblivious. One grandmother would pull out the latest shots of grandchildren, followed by the others. Although my friend alerted the group to how painful this was, they would forget and do it again. The stricken mother finally left the group. The pain was just too much.
As grandmothers surely we know pain! By now, we know that we carry our children’s pain on top of our own and have developed some compassion, or at least awareness. Let us remember the women who have lost daughters or have daughters who will never conceive. Let’s let the joy of our grandchildren be sufficient unto itself, remembering that spreading our joy can rip the scab off deep wounds. I learned a lesson today that I hope to remember.
We are grandmothers: I call on us all to be gentle; to be considerate; to enlarge our capacity to hold one another through all phases and circumstances of life.
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