We are a culture who likes to “get over” things. Show us a mountain and someone will try to climb it. The idea of closure is something we have come to think is important. We are supposed to eventually be able to tie things up neatly in a box and put it away on the shelf. When someone does not appear to be able to accomplish closure especially concerning a death of a loved one people begin to think that the person has mental problems. They think this until unfortunately something happens to someone they love and treasure. The hateful table is turned. The game is altered, the rules have changed.
People are obviously different and so is their grief. There are organizations you may seek out that lead you to other people who have experienced a loss and if you are fortunate you may find someone who grieves in a manner similar to yours. There are books that talk about the stages of grief. We are loath to stand on those stages, and some of us set up camp and live out our lives on them. For the most part those grieving have learned to wear a mask in public. We learn early that public grief in our country frightens people.
At first you think you are imagining it. You see someone you know and there is a flicker of change behind their eyes. They don’t know what to do with you. They don’t know what to say. You too probably are meeting their eyes with what appears to be trepidation. Any word spoken may tip you over the edge. You come towards each other, the path thinning to a wire stretched between your reality and theirs and neither of you are on solid footing.
Sometimes for the grief laden we want to frighten people. We want to gather up some of our pain and throw it at them. We lived where they now are, blissfully ignorant and now we want to jolt them and have them taste a moment of our reality. We blurt things out to strangers or perhaps totally innocuous things are said to us and we take offense, because of the turn of a word that is now offensive to us. We really don’t mean to be cruel, but it is like a test. Will you stay here and take it from us, as we stand shaking and the flood of tears is welling up behind our eyes? Not many can stay, and we vent our anger at them, because had we a choice we would not want to be around us either.
We want to scream our loved ones name, and we do, behind the safe closed doors of our home. We are probably not safe to drive our cars at times because of the tears that obscure our vision. We drift away in unbidden thoughts. We go through the motions of living.
Others who have been on this journey longer than I have tell me that it does not get easier, it just becomes different. Some say there are less tears. They say you find yourself not thinking of them quite as often. You have more joy in memories.
I am not sure how long any of this takes. The journey is too new for me. I have great memories and horrifying memories. Weighed on the scale the great outweigh the horror. The horror is unkind however, and lurks most in the tired evening, waits till your mind wants to rest when you are most vulnerable.
What do I want other’s to say or do for me? I have been told, “call me if you need anything.”I don’t know what I need. Well, yes, I take that back, I know what I really want and need- and you know the answer to that, but that is impossible. I will never call.You tell me you are thinking about me, and I appreciate that, I think the human spirit can reach out and sometimes I think I feel it. You tell me you are sorry, and that is perhaps the only thing that we the grieving need to hear on a regular basis. I take that to mean that you are full of sorrow. That the passing of this beautiful life, the life of our adored son, has given you sorrow. As the passing of any life should for any of us here on this globe.
I have a few friends who have the gift of being able to just “be” with me. They come physically and spend time with me. I don’t frighten them. They roll along with me and give me space and their own physical presence. It is a wonderful gift. It is the best help. They do not feel that they need to fill the air with words.
Words. My son was a man of words. He studied them and wrestled with them, turning them this way and that to discover the nuances and how, if at all, they connect man to man. There are folders full of papers and notebooks full of formula and theory all written in his hand. There are only really three words that really connect me to him and always will – I love you. I will as long as there is an always, I love you. Unconditionally, irrevocably, absolutely and forever.
“When someone does not appear to be able to accomplish closure especially concerning a death of a loved one people begin to think that the person has mental problems. They think this until unfortunately something happens to someone they love and treasure.” I agree…have thought this many times, although I would never wish this experience anyone, particularly the death of a child.
My daughter and I, early on, used to talk about the “Oh, no! Here she comes! Now what do I do?” look that would instantly appear in the eyes of someone who realized there was no way to avoid us. Fortunately, we were able to find humor in it instead of adding it to the other unavoidable “secondary wounds” that were more difficult to grapple with.
You are magnificently blessed to have friends who give you the gift of presence. Excellent post, exactly on point, and well written. Thank you for sharing your heart and life. My heartfelt prayers for you in your journey.
Thank you Rebecca. I agree, I would not wish this on anyone. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for your response. I grant most people a lot of grace. I know they don’t know what to do with me, and for the fact that they cannot understand; I, in a strange way am glad. As you said I hope they never do. My prayers are with you also.
I am a person who typically sees both sides of a coin. I always felt that my head understood things that my heart could not comprehend. I understood that it was not easy for people to be around us, but my heart hurt because we were left so alone. My head understood that, because Jason and Jenna had friends in common, it was not easy for mutual friends to be around Jenna; but my heart hurt for her because, at the age of 17, she had to deal with so much all by herself. I agree, however…I would not wish this on anyone.
You’re pretty good with words yourself.