Reflection : Pain that is too great to bear

From her early stardom in Emma (1996), to her breakthrough success in Shakespeare in Love (1998) and her singing debut in Duets (2000), Paltrow has managed to maintain a certain grace while living her adult life in front of the cameras.

The death of her father, who produced and directed the landmark TV hospital drama St. Elsewhere, shook her world. In October 2002, the family thought his cancer was at bay, and he went to Rome to celebrate Gwyneth’s 30th birthday.  But he began feeling sick.

“We got him to the hospital and he didn’t make it through the first night, because the cancer had come back,” Paltrow said. “It was in his bronchial tubes, which we didn’t know. None of us knew, including him, thank God.”

She thinks it is a blessing that her father did not know how sick he was.

“Because he would have faced a few really miserable months and I don’t know, I think there’s something kind of elegant and great about dying in Rome,” she said.

But the grieving period was extremely difficult for Paltrow. The young actress said she couldn’t believe she was able to wake up and function each day while feeling such pain.

But her father had really wanted her to make the Sylvia Plath film, so just two weeks after his death, Paltrow started work on Sylvia, the story of the poet who struggled through a rocky marriage before committing suicide.

Paltrow says she poured her own grief into the role.

“She was this woman in the ’50s and she was trying to be everything that a woman in the ’50s was supposed to be,” Paltrow said. “A wife and a mother, and a baker and a sewer and an organizer. And she was also most importantly this incredibly complicated, cracked spirit.”

There was someone else in the movie who had to work through heartbreak, too: Gwyneth Paltrow’s mother, actress Blythe Danner, who plays Plath’s mother.

Paltrow said she wants so much to see her mother heal.

“I would just love her to have some peace and — you know she’s had — we’ve all had such a difficult time with it,” Paltrow said. “She’s so incredible and she’s such a beautiful woman and she’s so full of life. And she’s in so much pain. So I hope that sort of subsides.”

Paltrow is now left with a perspective that only comes with facing the harsh realities of death.

“The amazing thing is how unprepared we are in this culture for grief. I mean, no one talks about it and it is a monster,” she said.

“I had crazy things happen to me, like I woke up probably a week or so after he died and all of the muscles around my rib cage were in spasm. I couldn’t breathe…. There were some days where I thought ‘I can’t believe I’m waking up. I can’t believe I’m still alive.’ I mean, the weight of the pain was so great …”

“But you just keep waking up.”


Crystalake :

The hardest thing is to say goodbye to loved ones, whether through breakup or death. She suffered both types of pain. I cannot take such pain too.

I understand this part : “all of the muscles around my rib cage were in spasm. I couldn’t breathe”. It was like a heart attack, when you tried to breathe, it was so painful, like the heart attack signs. I felt her pain too.

I cannot imagine the suffering of the family who lost their son in Greece. If I were the mother, how would I go through each day? It would be so so so painful. I think I may be so sad that I would slowly lose my health and be gone. How to bear huge emotional pains? How to love pets which have shorter life spans?


2 Responses to “Reflection : Pain that is too great to bear”

  1. 🙂 – I searched and found it. Thanks for the post. Joseph McLen

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