Traumatic loss is sometimes writ small. Orphanhood came to me in middle age and so I am among the fortunate. I escaped the extraordinary suffering of those who lose loved ones in childhood, horrifi c accidents, disease, war, acts of terrorism. My mother had lived a full life and I was an adult when she died. But we don’t experience death comparatively. It had been an especially hard year, punctuated by my mother’s increasing vulnerability and frequent middle-of-the-night calls for help. She didn’t live alone but might as well have; it was always I whom she called. And that night, she phoned at 2 a.m. I went once again, did what needed to be done. But then I left. And so the morning call announcing her death was especially traumatic. Had I stayed, I might have gotten help, saved her. Her soft face, her stillness in death, evoked a depth of longing for her that had been disavowed. Shock, grief, love unexpressed, overtook me.