Many people write about the buckets of support you get at first when someone dies. I think my loss must have come in a time of drought since I found more of a drip than a flood.
I expected ‘lean on me, I won’t fall over’ but have felt let down, left bambi-legged and wobbly, standing on my own. I expected support. I got a lot of comments on my facebook wall.
Before I let myself get all antsy, I have to say that there have been exceptions who were my light on dark days. I have friends who’ve managed to hold me close despite thousands of miles distance. I have friends who say ‘call any time’ and mean it.
I have friends who contacted me even though they had no clue what to say and were clearly wriggling with discomfort. One responded to my news with this message: ’emotionally retarded so unable to offer support but have alcohol’ and his honesty made me laugh on an impossible day. My few-dates-new-guy braved the twin horrors of my family and a funeral so that I wasn’t on my own, and I will never forget that kindness.
But even as I count those blessings, I have to acknowledge feeling that what I got was much less than what I needed.. that in my grief, I have been left wanting.
At first I took it kind of personally, felt it must reflect on me, how my friends value me. Reading the same disappointment in other posts helped exorcise that fear, so I’m also thankful for you who have written of your lonely moments of grief.
On one particularly awful day I messaged friends saying how alone I felt and how much I would appreciate hearing from them – it was astonishing how few replied. On days like that I find it hard to be forgiving. Instead I find my fingers twitching for an ‘unfriend’ button.
When I’ve caught myself imagining giving some people an angry ‘what for’, I’ve tried to put the case for the defence. I’ve tried to recognise that many have good intentions, but no idea how to help, so stay away and stay silent.
My nan often said, ‘do as you would be done by’. I wonder how often I’ve been the support to others that I’m wanting now, and the honest answer doesn’t please me. I had the heart to give support but often waited to be asked. How often have I let myself think that hanging back I was respecting privacy? I didn’t realise how hard it is to yell ‘help!’ when you are all out of words.
My family was lucky unlucky, cursed blessed in that dad’s illness stretched over years. I was grieving for at least a year before he even died and I guess it is hard for people to stay engaged that long. In the age of facebook status updates and twitter, our attention spans have shrunk.
I can see that grief has yanked me out of time and the patter of normal life. Some days feel like a hundred years without work or much else to distract me. I try to remember that in the world outside lives fill up fast.
My world has come to revolve around this point, this death, but I need to remind myself that my friends are on other orbits, have other suns to circle. I need to remind myself that in that babies are being born, lovers met and lost, plans hatched and lives being lived – and who is to say that my pain is more important than any of that?
I have to acknowledge that I have disconnected, drawn in to regroup. I have let my grief obscure my friends’ lives from me. I guess their joys, their sadnesses also cloud their eyes…. so I’m trying to be forgiving, trying to find my compassion for others as I ask it from them.
As the saying goes ‘be kinder than necessary, everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle’.