love and burden

Freud posits that any declaration of love masks some degree of odium, any hatred at least a trace of adoration. All that children can properly require of their parents is that they tolerate their own muddled spectrum—that they neither insist on the lie of perfect happiness nor lapse into the slipshod brutality of giving up. One mother who lost a child with a serious disability worried in a letter to me that if she felt relieved, her grief was not real. There is no contradiction between loving someone and feeling burdened by that person; indeed, love tends to magnify the burden. These parents need space for their ambivalence, whether they can allow it for themselves or not. For those who love, there should be no shame in being exhausted—even in imagining another life.

—Andrew Solomon from Far From the Tree

photo by Michael Kolster


  1. Wonderful quote. I often say that the greatest thing I have mastered since having and taking care of Sophie is the astounding ability to hold contrary thoughts and feelings and to feel comfortable doing so.

  2. Hi, I am reading the book now, I have an autistic child, I agree a lot with what the book said although disagree with other things there as well. Blessings.