Describing the pain and recovery she experienced after becoming disabled, Christina Crosby, author of A Body, Undone: Living On After Great Pain, said that grief does not always have a “happy ending.”
After experiencing a cycling accident at the age of 50, Prof. Crosby, English, feminist, gender, and sexuality studies, Wesleyan University, was left paralyzed.
“My past body would be lost forever and with it, my past life,” she said.
Crosby pointed to systematic issues regarding the lives of disabled people, including the difficulty of finding jobs and the dependence on “inadequate state services”.
Due to these barriers, Crosby expressed that she was not only disabled by injury, but also by others’ “dismissive attitudes that assume I am unable to help myself.”
Crosby argued against the “redemptive narrative” — which insists there is a “happy ending” to grief and an inevitability of disaster.
“I was not destined to break my neck,” she said. “Necessity is not the consort of history.”
While experiencing pain during rehab that she described as “flaming bone and burning skin,” Crosby was annoyed at the focus on “healing and renewal that ends with suffering redeemed.”
She emphasized the importance of remembering the past and denied the disappearance of grief, stating that “the process of mourning does not go stage by successive stage,” and that “time does not heal all wounds.”
Instead, Crosby sees mourning as an “iterative process that repeatedly returns you to the presence of what you have lost.”
She concluded on a more positive note, reminding the audience that “attending to the past opens a way forward.”
“Remember what has been irrevocably lost in the hopes of making a transformative future,” she said.