“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world… but you do have some say in who hurts you.” The Fault In Our Stars
To the person who thinks my grief is cumbersome…
To the person who felt the need to tell me HOW I should be grieving…
To the person who tried to put words in my dead father’s mouth not even a month after his passing…
To the person who has avoided me because of my grief and now our relationship is dead….
Grief is a personal journey with no time stamp. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you are fortunate enough to have not lost a person of monumental significance in your life yet. The saying “ignorance is bliss” holds true when it comes to death.
Perhaps you are unaware of the gut wrenching pain that occurs when losing someone who has held your hand since birth. Perhaps you are unaware of the constant sting in your heart after losing your real life super hero. Perhaps you are unaware of the nightmares that begin after watching cancer dismantle someone you adore. Perhaps my grief frightens you because it forces you to think of your own mortality and that of your loved ones. Or just maybe in your very hectic life you forgot how important it is to show respect to your dead friend/family member by acting like a decent human being and showing kindness and respect to the deceased’s immediate family.
You see, when someone you adore dies, life as you know it takes a dramatic turn. Despite how sick the person is, you can never prepare for life without the deceased. You are basically learning how to live without this person in your life. You search for various forms of life support as you endure overwhelming waves of grief. And these waves of grief strike at the darndest little times, not just those expected firsts, I’m referring to moments when you’re minding your own business in the grocery store and a song comes on, or when you’re watching TV and a Hallmark commercial comes on. And let me tell you, it’s those during those unexpected moments when those waves really knock you down.
First, let me say that our family is truly blessed to have such a strong support network. Death is funny, it has a way of exposing fair weathered friends and family. You never think when someone is dying that people who were once in your inner circle are capable of such ignorance and ineptitude. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s because life is so hectic we tend to forget what’s really important or maybe it’s because society has become so incredibly selfish.
Pain deserves acknowledgement not judgment.
Unfortunately for you I am aware of your actions during this extremely vulnerable time in my life, during perhaps one of the darkest times in my life. My father died, you remember him don’t you? I watched you shed a tear or two as you approached his death bed, I listened as you proclaimed your “love” for him. I watched you walk up to his casket and pay your last respects. I watched you shed crocodile tears and make promises that were broken before the dirt was even tossed on my father’s casket. I apologize for being so blunt, but death does that to you.
Death opens your eyes and closes your heart to some as an effort to survive.
That fateful evening I sat next to my dying father holding his hand, certain the sounds of my breaking heart were deafening. I held the hand of the man who brought me into the world. The hand of the man who taught me how to throw a baseball, how to dance while standing on top of his feet, how to drive, the incredible man who taught me how to find the good in everyone.
But I’m struggling with this, where is the good in a person who is too impatient and indignant to simply be there for a newly fatherless daughter? Where is the good in a person who uses their self righteousness to justify treating a widow poorly when her world is completely shattered?
“Self-righteousness is a loud din raised to drown the voice of guilt within us” Eric Hoffer
Maybe you can put your selfishness aside and consider that for the rest of my life, the rest of my mother’s life we will never be able to embrace my father’s comforting hug or hear his voice again. Maybe what we need is your empathy and not judgment as we attempt to accept this new reality we never asked for. Maybe you can truly recognize that our horrific loss and pain is greater than your need to tell us how to grieve and pass judgment. Maybe you can recognize that our family has a permanent void in our lives and we need kindness and empathy.