What is the best thing that someone can do for me, for us? Let us be who we have become. We are instantly and long term changed by our tragedy. Our families and friends need to just try to “be there” for us on the journey. Support comes to us in the most helpful ways when those around us support whatever form and method our grief takes. Those that have helped the most understand and realize that they will never fully understand how I feel. They care about me and they are not afraid to talk about Fred and my grief. I have shared with you some hard conversations with others and some things that people have said that are hurtful. Bottomline is that all of these people CARE. I have to expect some of it but my friends understand, the true friends that I have and the family that I hold close, they understand that I may look at them once in a while with a raised eyebrow, some anger, or I may take things the wrong way. My emotions are heightened. My defenses are up against a horrible stigma around suicide. My mind is confused and I am becoming a new ‘ME” that I am not even familiar with. My friends and family understand that I have feelings of blame and guilt. They understand that with the tragic loss of my son, I feel responsible. The best thing…..and the most beautiful thing, those that do not put a timetable and expectation around our grief. People want to know about Fred, about me, about grief, and death. It is natural for them to ask questions. It is “normal” for them to be curious about everything.
My husband and I went to a party this past weekend. We were standing in a house and only knew a few people but I realized also that they all knew of me because of the situation and relation to the host. I had my game face on, I was determined to be tough and have a good time. This was going as planned until mingling turned to a serious conversation with someone. More of a one sided seriousness, I was continuing to look away, smile and had the “mingle stance.” Each question becoming deeper into “who are you really?” Each question directly about Fred.
I stood in that house with my eyes completely filled with tears, ready to flow…..but I continued to just talk, smile, answer the questions to the best of my ability. I wanted to run, and felt myself making exit plans in my head…but my feet were frozen in the ground.
I excused myself from the conversation, I could not take anymore.
We want those around us, family and friends to talk about our lost loved ones. We do not want them to be forgotten. Their names ring a bell in our heart each time we hear them and the bell wakes our sleeping grief that we have stepped through and become stronger from. At times these memories and conversations can throw us into a grief attack. And other times it can cause our grief to take steps backwards, ignoring progress and starting over.
But that day, this past weekend, I did ok. I talked about Fred to someone I did not know and to someone who did not know Fred. They had heard what happened and were curious to details and feelings. I gave as much info as I could before reaching a limit within myself. For this reason, the complexity around talking about our loved ones and talking about the tragedy that has happened in our lives…..it is hard for people to ask about our grief and ask about our loved ones. I am proud of myself.
They may be scared of death. Scared of emotion. They may have had suicidal thoughts at one time and the conversation hits too close to home. Whatever it is, WE have to respect them also. There are those that need to ask questions and those that cannot. They look to US, the griever, for clues and signs. They look for the cue to ask, or talk, or comfort. They may feel so uncomfortable around us because of their own experiences or lack of experience.
It is our responsibility to help those around us – help them understand our grief and our needs. Each of us has a voice and now is the time to use it.
~Leslie Beery, The Surviving Project
Picture is of “The Box of Sorrows” to learn more about this box and it’s history please visit: http://www.pyramid-gallery.com/TroubledWalk.html