I suppose I always took for granted, particularly these last 10 years, the relevance of family to the holidays. "Going to be with my family" just always was what I did, what others did. It was sacred carved out time. But when a key element of your family is no longer there, how does "going to be with my family" make sense? How can I be? He isn't here. … a key component. He can't be made up for, his absence can't be ignored and that hole of him not being there certainly cannot be filled. I have learned a few things that can be done around it that certainly can help ease the pain of that absence. I share these things only with the hope or intention that I awaken someone else so they are able to help the next one that follows in my path. Perhaps some day my children read this and get what it means to really comfort someone who is grieving.
Everyone certainly moves on with their own lives. I don't know if I entirely agree with most people who say that to me in the sense they mean it (as if trying to explain why people don't call or check in). People certainly continue to move forward and carry on as they should and are entitled to do. But most people stop when they see me and offer a hug or a smile or ask how we are all doing. So many reach out and email or call to ask directly, those in town and out of town. Most people want to acknowledge the grief. They know. Life isn't back to normal for us.
A wise man recently told me that some might want to just see me get back into the wheel of life that I was in before, that not being in that wheel makes them feel uncomfortable with themselves or around me. But my life isn't going back to that normal and as far as my being a cog in that wheel, I am now a bent cog and I won't be able to go back into that wheel. I now must find a different wheel to fit into to carry me on my journey. I am absolutely committed to that once I am through mourning the wheel I am no longer a part of.
I think its important for people to understand this analogy - its not being healed or getting fixed or the right therapist or the right grief group. Its about time and going through the process of grief. This process is so different for everyone but so necessary for all.
I also have realized the power of "how are you"once you are not so fine. Three simple words. They show care and concern. They show "I know your life isn't the same." But I also think perhaps these three words need to be turned inside out at times. Perhaps consider "I am thinking of you. I know it must really be tough during the holidays (or summer or whatever time it is) and I am thinking of you today". It takes the onus off the person grieving so that they don't feel compelled to pretend they feel something they don't such as "I'm fine" or feel that they must get into a deep explanation of how or why they don't feel fine. It is expressing that the person has taken the time to imagine without my having to explain what it is like.
Lastly, talking about the person who is no longer with us means the world. It keeps his/her spirit alive within us. It helps give us a safe place to talk about him/her and it means that you too want to remember and keep that spirit a part of us.
Again, I come back to the wisest words I have ever heard about showing up for others - it changes nothing but means everything.
I survived the first holidays. They were rough, they were hard and I missed Eddie. I am grateful I had all of you asking if you could be with us.
Hugs to all,