ew Dimensions Emerge in the Struggle to Live with the Very Real
Pain of Death
year of 1997 held many changes for many of us. The deaths of James Stewart and
many other prominent people have brought to light a situation that I think should
really be addressed.
simply, it is that we have to learn to get through life even though we have lost
someone very dear to us. We may change, but the fact that death will always be
a part of our lives doesn't change.
me, 1997 was a time I decided to go even more public with some of the tragedies
that have occurred in my life. I had referred to them in news interviews in years
past, and told of them in a detailed manner in Clay Eals'
1996 biography of me, Every Time a Bell Rings. But in 1997, I started speaking
at various organizations and conventions all over the country about my surviving
the pain of losing loved ones.
life was not simple as I grew up. When I was 8, my mother began suffering from
Alzheimer's Disease. She died when I was 14. My father was killed in an automobile
accident one year later. I was an orphan, and I became a ward of the court.
court sent me to a home in a little town in Missouri. My life had been in Hollywood,
but instantly I was in a town that had fewer people in it than in my class at
Los Angeles High School. I lost my family, my house, my school, my friends, my
home - virtually my life.
my adult years, my first husband was killed in a hunting accident. We were divorced
at the time, but we had shared two lovely daughters.
the most crushing blow of all was the death of my son John, at the age of 18,
to suicide. Being a survivor of suicide is a totally different type of reality.
Then, after 25 years of marriage, my second husband died a slow and painful death
from cancer. I was his total caregiver and watched as he was unable to fight this
people are suffering from the very real pain of death. My heart goes out to you,
and I am hoping that more attention will be focused in areas to make help available
to all of us who are suffering.
I have made the commitment to somehow do everything I can to help people realize
that there are ways of coping and learning to heal. As I speak to various groups,
I open and share my heart.
is relatively new territory for me. Many thanks to those wonderful
people who have given me so much encouragement.