Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | October 27, 2013

Sunday Linkage

Signs of Autumn

1. Grits for Breakfast: “Are police shootings of mentally ill on the rise?” Statistics and a link to an Oct. 22 Wall Street Journal article are at the link.

2. Richard Feynman’s first spouse, Arline, died of tuberculosis in 1945, aged 25. Some 16 months later, in the fall of 1946, Richard wrote a letter to his deceased wife, which he placed in a sealed envelope that was opened after his death in 1988. Letters of Note has the text of the letter, which includes this near the end:

My darling wife, I do adore you.

I love my wife. My wife is dead.


PS Please excuse my not mailing this — but I don’t know your new address.

3. When Angelo Merendino’s wife, Jennifer, was diagnosed with breast cancer in her late 30s, and he began this photo chronicle of the next four years (in case you haven’t seen it yet — it’s been making the rounds on Facebook and such). Here’s some background, here’s his blog, and here’s an interview that Katy Waldman did with Mr. Merendino for Slate. See also this Althouse post.

4. I’ve been reading Clarissa’s Blog for a few years now, and I have linked to items on her blog before. In her day job, she is a tenure-track professor of Hispanic literature at a state university in southern Illinois, not far from St. Louis.

All that is preface, and this post was difficult to read (excerpt below the fold):

I went to see my doctor and we did a routine ultrasound.

And there was no heartbeat. Just like that. For no medical reason, Eric’s heart had stopped. This is the same thing as SIDS but it happens in utero and it is 10 times more frequent than SIDS. Somehow, I managed to not know that this was possible. I knew a heartbeat could stop in the first trimester but that it could just happen 6 days before the due date was unimaginable. I thought that if there were problems at this late stage, one could go into premature labor, have bleeding, or experience some symptoms. But it turned out this could just happen.

I cannot describe to you what it is like to spend the night with a dead baby inside you. The doctor told me that people sometimes choose to wait for the labor to start naturally but I couldn’t even begin to imagine what kind of psychological resilience one needs to face something like this.

I had the C-section on Friday. Eric was very beautiful, with curly golden hair and fat cheeks. Everybody at the hospital was really wonderful and sensitive. The nurses all cried for us. My sister flew in for the operation. She and N have been really phenomenal throughout all this.

I know that it is impossible to find words to say to a person in this situation, and that is fine. You are all good people and I know you care. I will be fine, I don’t have any suicidal thoughts or anything of the kind.

In the coming days, I will be writing whenever I feel it helps me to do so and about things that it helps me to discuss. It’s OK to say as little or as much as you want. I know you are all with me.

There are follow-up posts here, here, and here, for starters.

It is hard to know what to say in such a situation, but as Clarissa herself notes, “People are afraid of saying the wrong thing and hurting my feelings. They really don’t need to worry, though. There is no wrong thing to say. Even if they make an awkward comment, it will be OK because the pain I’m experiencing lies very far from what words can access.”

Sincerest condolences.

Image Credit: Photo by Philip Venable, December 2010, and used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license. Source: Flickr.


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