you let me down…

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’.

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10 Responses to you let me down…

  1. Sorry to read about your loss. I had a death in the family and went through the same thing. For me it was shocking how the lack of real support was not from family members but from girls i was dating. Best of luck and will be following your blog.

  2. My sister broke up with her boyfriend just after my mom died, as he just wasn’t around and she didn’t feel supported. I found it amazing how the people you expect to be here sometimes simply don’t know how to be, and people you never connected with before can really step up. I’m sorry you’ve had such a rough ride on this front though. I’m toying with putting together a list of ’10 things to do and NOT to do when someone you know loses a loved one’. A friend sent me something similar: “Six Things You Should Never Say to a Friend (or Relative or Colleague) Who’s Sick. And Four Things You Can Always Say.” ( I’ll do a rough draft some time and you can help me add to it!

  3. Alana says:

    Those lonely moments are so hard. I think sometimes that an “expected” death is less supported than a sudden torn-from-life-too-early one. Not that it makes a difference to those of us grieving but I’ve noticed that not all loss is perceived as equal. Sending you support and love from afar.

  4. I like this you let me down… | findinglifeinadeath , enjoyed this one thanks for putting up keep update you let me down… | findinglifeinadeath.

  5. Bill Howdle says:

    My heart goes out to you and all that have suffered a loss. I am a terminal patient but know the entire situation is so many times it is harder on the families and loved ones. The ones left behind to carry on. A loss leaves your life changed forever and it takes time to adjust to that change. It takes time to realize that while it will never be the same, it can and will be as good. I know easy to say but so hard to accept or believe when going through grief.
    I appreciate you visits to my site.

  6. Louise says:

    Wow. I’ve just followed a link from a link from a link from a friend and landed here. I’ve read this post and I’m speechless really but just wanted to say hello and let you know I’ve been here but struggle to respond before digesting! Your words are powerful and writing is exquisitely beautiful – something that only comes from the courage to face the loneliness of the dark night. I hope life is getting lighter for you. Sending kindness your way,

    • Hello Louise, It is always a real please to find comments and even more so when they start with ‘wow” :). Thanks for the compliment – it is actually sometimes hard to read back into these posts because in many ways is it still so vivid… I think my more recent posts have a better dose of light.

  7. Pingback: whilst it lasts… | finding life in a death

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