Since we lost Sage I have become so widely aware of societies lack of knowledge and interest in grief. It’s much easier to brush it under the rug and leave it be. I’ve looked at Ryan so many times thinking out loud, “Why don’t we learn this in school?! Death is a part of life. Always has been, always will be. So why don’t we learn how to deal with it and help other’s through it?!” In the Victorian era it was tradition for bereaved parents to wear dark, dull clothing as part of their mourning for the first 2 years after death. It was something that was observed publicly. It was known and acknowledged. Now it’s much easier to not bring it up, to leave things unspoken in public and to just go on with our days.
In the beginning I thought “ok it’s uncomfortable now but it will get better.” I thought surely I could communicate some of my emotions to friends and family and they would get it! They would see and hear my pain and they would know how to act and what to say from that moment on. But I was far from it. Almost 11 months of living through grief and the discomfort of my life sometimes feels as though it’s breaking me. Immense misunderstandings, lack of communication in friendships and little voiced concern. I had no idea grief would be accompanied by so many other hard paths. It’s very isolating when you live with it in the sense that the only people who could ever understand are those who have walked through it themselves. As much as your friends and family may love you and wish they could make it all go away — intentions aren’t always met with understanding and empathy to go there.
The other week I sat down with a woman who lost her son and her husband within 10 months of each other. Absolutely life shattering. We really barely knew each other but through mutual friends we were connected. She lives in Georgia and while I was there this summer we got to spend the afternoon together by her pool for the first time since we lost our loved ones. She came and sat next to me while I sat there alone away from the bustling pool filled with her grand babies and my girlfriends daughter. She looked in my eyes and said “how are you?”, words that hit my heart deep coming from her. Tears left both of our eyes and we sat there holding hands. We shared about our losses, wiping our cheeks, agreeing, and feeling a small sigh of relief. The connection you feel through pain is far greater than the one you feel through joy. It’s almost unexplainable. The brokenness of both our hearts united us and reassured us both we’re not alone in the heart ache, in the sleepless nights, and in the moments of panic of life becoming so wildly different. I left that day... to be honest wishing I lived much closer to her... but also feeling my heart take on her burden with mine. I know glimpses of her pain and she knew mine. I know we'll be connected forever.
I think one of the greatest gifts you can give in grief is patience. True, steadfast patience. To be a friend to someone grieving is a whole other topic (I’m working on that post). But what I would say for now is that to truly walk alongside someone in grief takes a patient person. Someone who is consistent in their love and care and someone who allows you to take as much time as you need to mourn and to process. Grieve becomes a part of your LIFE, not a season. This is my life without my daughter everyday, and until I see her face in heaven I will grieve her death.
Living life with grief takes stepping out into the uncomfortable, it takes coaching friends and family through how to be there, and it can be really tolling. Often I don’t feel strong enough. I want to leave where I am and start fresh, live in the country surrounded by animals and mountains. There will be air to breathe there, space to feel free. But I know that won’t fulfill my heart. I know there’s still so much purpose for me. So just as I would say patience is the greatest gift you could give, I also know patience is the greatest gift I can give myself. It’s easy to feel like you’re not “on track” or “where you should be”, but there’s no such thing as that!! Time will go on and I will learn as it does. Every day searching for new purpose and meaning, finding joy in life and kindness in people. Discomfort will be my guide for now…