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.
Okay, I’m back to the geeky physics stuff. Let me explain.
Grief is like a black hole
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?
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?