Does grief give anything back?

I keep thinking I will write no more blog posts, that I have nothing more to give, and then a thought snags and I have to explore it, as much for myself as anyone else.

So here goes. I want to talk about Hawking radiation.

Hawking what?

Okay, I’m back to the geeky physics stuff. Let me explain.

Grief is like a black hole

woman s hand using a pen noting on notepad
Photo by Kaboompics .com on

A few week’s ago, I was thinking about how one-way communication is after someone has died. I keep thinking of things I want to tell my sister, and I do tell her. I write her letters in my diary. If I’m alone in the car, I move my bag off the front passenger seat to make room for her and talk to her out loud. I update her on what’s going on, tell her about the kids, share my worries.

I tell her all the things I would tell her if she was still alive, but she doesn’t reply. I get nothing back. I had an image of death being like a black hole that sucks in all the love I still feel for my sister, all the things I tell her in whispers and thoughts.

By definition, a black hole is an object where gravity is so strong that anything in the vicinity will be pulled into it, even light. That’s why it’s black, of course.

And death can feel like that, pulling in your energy, love and thoughts and giving nothing back.

What about Hawking radiation?


The image seemed quite bleak and appropriate to the way I was feeling and I would have left it at that, but a quiet, inner voice asked, “What about Hawking radiation?”

Hawking radiation is a theory proposed in 1974 by Stephen Hawking, the well-known English cosmologist who was confined to a wheelchair due to motor neurone disease. After exploring the theory of black holes, he suggested that, due to quantum effects, they might not be completely black. Instead they would have a faint glow due to the emission of radiation. This radiation would cause the black hole to lose mass until it ceased to exist in a last burst of intense radiation.

Of course, this is theory. No-one has actually observed Hawking radiation and the level of radiation predicted is, in most circumstances so small that it would be very difficult to observe.

But it’s a comforting and challenging thought. A black hole seems like the ultimate symbol of grief and yet, maybe even black holes give something back.

Does grief give anything back?

american robin animal avian bird
Photo by Andy Bear Grills Barker on

And just like a black hole, maybe grief does give something back.

My sister is no longer here to respond, but does that mean that all the love and thoughts and prayers for her are lost?

Maybe it’s like Hawking radiation. I won’t get a direct answer from my sister, but perhaps I’ll notice and appreciate something else: a robin at the bird feeder, a patch of blue sky on the shortest day of the year, my dog laying her head on my lap.

Or maybe I’ll notice that someone needs me and be able to respond to that.

What do other people think?


5 thoughts on “Does grief give anything back?

  1. Elizabeth December 27, 2019 / 1:02 am

    I get a sense of my sister, gone now two and a half years, at odd times. I can’t explain it very well, but I almost feel that she is very near for a little while. I find it very comforting. I am definitely not in charge of the occurrence, don’t seek her presence or anything. It just occasionally comes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • canach January 2, 2020 / 3:08 pm

      I know what you mean. Was walking along the beach today and suddenly thought of a story I wanted to tell my sister about the dog and even though the story was funny, I suddenly had tears in my eyes at the thought that maybe she was there, maybe she was sharing the story with me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Elizabeth January 2, 2020 / 3:36 pm

        There is so much we don’t know about the afterlife. I choose to accept those times I feel especially close to my sister as genuine meetings.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. seriouslyseekinganswers January 18, 2020 / 10:22 pm

    When I see a particularly brilliant sunset, or sunrise, I look up and think of my parents. And I think, “I just know you’re up there somewhere.” They come to me in dreams sometimes as well.


    • canach March 12, 2020 / 8:58 pm

      That’s nice. I think of my sister when I see beautiful cloud formations. Lovely that they come to you in dreams. Unfortunately, almost all the dreams I have about my sister are very disturbing, but that says more about how I react to trauma than anything else. I believe she is at peace.

      Liked by 1 person

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