Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Grief, a way of life.

There’s that momentary feeling of terror when you are face to face with someone who has just suffered a great loss.  What do I say to this person?

I know that when I was that person lost in the immediacy of my own grief I hated hearing the circumstances of another person’s loss.  I didn’t want to hear the stories of how the people they loved died.  I had just lived through the circumstances of my own loved one’s death. 

I know those people were trying to tell me look, I lived through it and came out on the other side.  I survived.  You will too.

But what I wanted to hear was how they survived it.  How did they get out of bed every day, eat, sleep, breath?  But no one seemed to have that kind of advice.

I don’t know how I survived the loss of my brothers.  I read memoirs of how people grieving felt.  Their words often described exactly what I was feeling.  I wrote my own feelings down, a way of trying to release them from occupying so much of me.  Eventually I got out of bed, ate, slept, and started breathing again.  I learned how to live with grief.

What I do say now about my grief is that it occupies a closet somewhere deep inside me.  I can open the door and let it wash over me and I can feel the fresh pain of it all over again.

Since the loss of my brothers I’ve lost my dad and my aunt.  I know there will be more too.  All these years later I do understand why people tell the circumstances of their loss. They don’t know what to say.

When I come face to face with someone grieving I have to make a conscious effort to not tell my brothers’ stories, or my father’s and aunt’s cancer stories.  I tell them how sorry I am and try to let them know that if they need someone, I will be there.

But still I feel inadequate and I don’t know that I’ve said enough.  I want them to know that it is possible to adapt to living with grief.  I hope you find your way.

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