Grief. Not a word I have ever thought too much about. I've used it quite often as in: "Good grief, will you stop that?;" "Why must you give me grief about (fill in the blank); and other clich� uses of the word. I never gave the word much thought at all, much less the meaning. That is, until Grief introduced himself to me personally on January 17, 2000. The start of a new century. A chance for monumental changes in my life.
Boy what a true statement that was. On January 17, 2000, I lost the love of my life in an automobile accident. I had spoken to him at 4:30 on that Sunday afternoon and by 4:30 a.m. on Monday he had left my life forever. He was 45 years old.
Dealing with this tragedy in itself is quite enough to last me a lifetime, but dealing with the people who are dealing with my grief is like trying to communicate with something from another universe. It would be very interesting to see, if I took the time to really research it, at what point in our history grieving the loss of someone you loved became taboo. I strongly recall in "Gone with the Wind", Scarlett was greatly put out because she was expected to wear black and grieve for a year.
My experience has been, being generous, that after about a month I was supposed to just be "over it" and be getting on with my life as usual. What makes the situation worse is that Brian and I were not married. We had only been together for about two years. Our relationship was a troubled one and we struggled to understand each other. He was the one for me though; I knew it in my heart. Soul mates, true love, whatever phrase you choose to use, I loved him with all my heart.
The people who I would expect to know me best, love me most, and support me no matter what have been, by far, the worst. My family and my friends look at me now as if I've grown two heads and have a tail. I can literally see their faces pale and their eyes roll when I mention his name. I can read it on their faces, "Oh no, here she goes again."
My own mother, who experienced the same type of loss when she was about my age, tells me to stop using my grief as an excuse to avoid reality and get over it. Get over it. Like all I lost was something as simple as losing a spare car key. Oh well no big deal. You can fall in love again some day. You are young; you will have other chances. You should be happy for him: he is in a better place now. We can never understand God's plan. Etc, and blah, blah, blah���
ENOUGH!!!! Now granted I have had more than just a few moments of insanity. I have had more than one grief- induced breakdown in a public place. I have had a very strong and barely controlled urge for the last few months to punch just about anyone in the nose for just about any reason. I have locked myself in my room for an entire weekend and done nothing but lay on the bed, feel sorry for myself and cry.
But you know what???? That is OK. It is part of GRIEVING!!! But I only found out it was OK to feel the things I am feeling by joining an on-line support group. Only in this environment have I been able to find the love and support I so desperately need. Only here can I talk about Brian and the things I lost and the things I feel, and be totally and completely understood. It's strange to me how complete strangers are the only ones you can turn to in your greatest time of emotional need. Only in this group have I found a means for healing.
Sadder still is that I know I was one of these "grief police" before this happened to me. I know I was guilty of uttering those simple phrases we all think are caring and meant to comfort. Let me tell you all right now from personal experience, THEY DON'T. All those things become thoughtless and hurtful to the grieving person.
The best thing to do is just say "I'm so very sorry" and offer a hug. Don't offer your time, support, or an ear if you really don't truly think you can follow through. Don't compare our loss to the loss of your Great Aunt Tilly or your favorite dog, Ralph. Don't even try to compare it to the loss of a parent or close friend or someone you knew who lost their mate. It's like comparing apples and elephants.
All loss is hard; all loss has an impact on us in some way; but the loss of a mate is an indescribable personal hell. I can only imagine what losing a child would do to a person and my heart breaks ffor people who have suffered that unimaginable tragedy. And a word of advice to all of you out there "who don't want to get married because it might ruin the relationship". You better get some things in writing because no matter how much you think the family loves you, or how many years you spent with your mate, you will only be the "boyfriend" or the "girlfriend" when it comes to what belongs to whom and who gets to decide what happens to the person who has died.
During this whole awful year I have not only lost the person I thought I would spend my life with, but I have lost all his friends and family. I have lost most of my friends too. Maybe some of them just don't know what to say to me. Maybe they think I have some kind of curse and if they are my friend they will be susceptible to the same kind of tragedy. You can't worry about saying things that will make us cry. We cry all the time anyway. How could we not cry? Say their names, share some memories, remember something about that person that made you laugh. It hurts, but it doesn't hurt as bad as trying to get through the days while everyone around you is trying to pretend that person never existed because they don't want to "upset you."
To those of you who read this and have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, tear this article out of whatever magazine you may be reading. Put it in a box in the very top of your closet, and I hope with all my heart you never have to go looking for it. To those of you who are trying to read this as the tears stream down your face, I am so very truly sorry for your loss. I wish you peace.