Some of you, especially those who have been reading this blog from the beginning, have come to regard me as somewhat of an expert on grief.
Well…let me clarify…
I am not certain that I have had any revelations that literally anyone else who has experienced loss hasn’t had – but what I have done is share my thoughts and feelings about my father’s death (among many other things, as it turns out) with all who care to read about them.
As a result, I have been told that my gift is putting words to some universal feelings around loss and grief. I suppose in this way I am able to shine a light on the fact that as human beings who have loved and lost, we are never alone in our pain.
Many readers have told me that when someone they know experiences a loss, they recommend my blog to help that person process it. I have to admit this feels good. I like knowing that my choice to process my grief in such a public way has helped people (other than me), and perhaps will continue to help people even after I am done with my “365 days”.
I hope so.
At the moment, though, I feel that my words are completely inadequate.
My 45 year old friend, Melissa, became a widow one week ago today – a widow and a single mother of four.
I have written about how we do ourselves and others a disservice by comparing our pain (or our cause of pain) with that of others. I have said that grief is grief; loss is loss. We feel how we feel, they feel how they feel. Everyone’s feelings are valid and true, regardless of whether we perceive someone as having more or less reason to suffer than we do. As with anything in life, comparing ourselves to others in any way does not serve us.
While I still believe that to be true, sometimes I just can’t help it.
As I watched the children’s faces as their father was being lowered into the earth, I felt emotionally gutted. I couldn’t help but think: I had roughly three decades longer with my wonderful father than these children had with theirs.
My pain was enormous. So…what of theirs? Can you even image?
As for my friend, she lost the person with whom she planned to spend the rest of her life (happily, I might add). The life she has, they built it together over the course of more than twenty years. Everything in her home whispers a story about Jaime.
He is everywhere and nowhere all at once.
In some ways I feel afraid of (or perhaps intimidated by) the grief I imagine she holds within her. I am not proud of that, but I will own it, because I know my discomfort comes from a desire to relieve her pain, coupled with a deep knowing that I can’t possibly do that for her.
Her pain is hers to process, and she is so incredibly strong and capable.
That being said, I can show up for her anyway. I can show up even when I know I can’t take away the pain. I can show up to witness her in her grief. I can show up for the hard and messy and complicated stuff that lands heavily and mercilessly after the dust settles.
I can show up.