When people I know have suffered loss of a loved one
I did not know what to do
I did not know what to say
I did not know how to 'be' with someone grieving
I DID somehow manage to sort out, long before David died, that 'sorry' is a horrible thing to say to someone grieving and would always say:
"May there be ease for the journey ahead for all."
"May you be gentle with yourself at this time."
"My heart aches for you. May you have comfort."
I sucked at grief
How did I get this way?
(How did any of us...since most of us suck at this too...though not all...and this is NO judgement!!!)
My earliest memory of someone dying was my grandfather, from bladder cancer, when I was 12 or 13.
He had been deteriorating so quickly and 'at home', that he decided he did not want me or my brothers to be around him.
My memory of this was that he told my mother and grandmother that he wanted us to remember him as he had been, not as the emaciated bag of bones he became as the cancer ate away at him.
When he died my mother, the only child, went into a state of grief that was so huge that there was no room for the grief of my brothers and me. She was inconsolable and would not allow us to be around her. She spent days at my grandmother's house (a football field's distance from ours).
She would not allow us to cry.
He was cremated....no funeral...no memorial...no celebration of Life.
Just gone....and now we must wipe our hands clean and move on....was the feel of it to my pubescent self.
The same for other family members as they passed on.
The first time I was at a funeral home was as a high school sophomore.....our assistant principle had died and my best friend and I clutched each other as we went through the line to view the body and I was so astounded and repelled by looking at a dead person....it was so foreign to me.
When my father died....I mean...when he took his last
breath and the room filled with the amazing light and sense of a spirit moving out of a body....I began to sob.
My mother, who never wanted anyone to 'make" her cry, said "Oh, I see Sis can't handle it!"
That was her first response...the first words out of her mouth after her husband of over 50 years had taken his last breath.
The day after, when I went to her house to just 'be' with her...because what was there to say?......she just sat with me...
The day after that I got a phone call from her saying that she and my brothers were concerned that I was not handling Dad's death well. They all thought I needed some counseling.
I asked her why she thought that considering that my father had died two days before.
She said, "Because you sat here yesterday and sighed 13 times."
I said "And YOU counted?!?!?!?"
When she died...I washed her body and wept.
And then she was cremated....my brothers and I lifted a few shots to her and my father.....but then we moved on....wiped our hands and lived our lives.
When David died....my youngest brother came to the house about 36 hours after and asked me if I was going to sell the house and move to Maryland to be closer to the boys (my sons)
I reminded him that I also have a son in Indy.....
That my tribes and my life and my HOME that David and I built to be a place of healing was right here!!
I got a text from my other brother.
I got a text from David's youngest brother.
I've heard from my brothers a total of five times if you count both of them together....since last May.
They learned what I learned.
The body is gone...wipe your hands and move on.
Do not let grief take you down
Do not talk about it
Do not mention the dead
Do not feel into it too much
If you don't know what to say...say nothing
Don't say something that might make the other person cry....or yourself cry
But it was what I was taught
It was and IS a horrible way to deal with death and grief
It leads to ignorance...quite literally...and blindness of loss and how to support those who are adrift because of their losses and in need of someone to anchor them by caring enough to keep holding the line.
I was one of those.
I have been cast into the maelstrom that the death of my Soulmate has left me to weather.
Now I know
I say to you....learn now...learn how to be with those in grief...so that you will know what you need when your losses come...for unless you die first... you will face deep loss if you have not already.
Meanwhile....as I stagger through....I say....
I am profoundly remorseful for the pain I may have caused you personally if I was not there for you when you needed me.
I hope you can forgive me for not knowing better
I ask for your forgiveness now
I was lost in the dark
Now I see clearly
and this is what had to happen for me to reach this place.