Saturday, May 9, 2015

When Your Friend is Grieving, Don't Be Stupid

Today's post may be a bit critical, so you've all been forewarned. It may also contain some strong language, so again, you've been forewarned. I'll be writing from my heart (as usual), but it's a heart that is hurting a lot currently and needs a forum to express hardships and pains.

I joked around a lot after Dad's death about writing a guide of "Things NOT to Do for the Grieving." Perhaps this is that, maybe with a less cynical twist. This has been in my head and my heart a lot the last few weeks because, well, I'm having a terrible time dealing currently. I was in a car accident about 5 weeks ago that has put me in quite a lot of pain. We still don't have a car, which has pushed me to the point of exhaustion since I have a million and one places to be in a very structured and short amount of time. So, I'm literally running, biking, and riding the bus to get to where I need to be. Anytime that I had for myself to sit quietly or to pause and take it all in has just flown out the window. Hopefully, a car will come into our lives in the near future because it's been a hell of an ordeal having to respect a schedule that was built around having a car. Oh, and did I mention that I'm having to pop pain pills like there is no tomorrow? I'm treating my back in many different ways, but it takes time, and I'm simply suffering in the meanwhile.

I'm sure the physical pain and the exhaustion are all adding to this already difficult time. I literally felt like I couldn't handle anything more yesterday. I exploded. I screamed, I cried, I threw things. I literally burst into flames because I just couldn't anymore. I felt so alone. I felt so defeated. And I was angry at everyone and everything.

Which brings to me to my main point, my request for those dealing with a grieving friend. This may be my indirect way of also requesting this for myself, because...I, too, am grieving. So:

Please do not forget your friend is grieving. It may be 5 months or half a year since my dad died, but grieving lasts a long time, especially for someone who was my whole fucking world. And grief, while it may have stages, does not cycle through them neatly. It comes all jumbled together. There's anger while being sad while denying that it's all real. There's acceptance mixed with fury mixed with defeat. There's a ripping of your insides that, for me, outweighs the physical pain that I'm in.

So, please don't forget. If you care about someone, just ask them how they are every once in awhile. Maybe this isn't true of everyone, but I'm finding it exceptionally hard to reach out. I don't want to burden anyone with this insanity, but God, I just sometimes need someone to reach out and say, "How are you holding up?"

I'll say it a third time for effect: PLEASE DON'T FORGET about your grieving friend.

On the other side of the same coin, don't treat me like I'm totally debilitated by my grief. I still function, quite well, I might add. So, don't treat me like a poor, pitiful little thing while cooing at me. It's infuriating. I'm not doing okay, true, but I'm making it to work, I'm keeping up with school assignments, and I'm bathing on the regular. Instead, why not say, "Good job. I'm proud of you for all you're still able to do."

One of my dad's best friends came to me at his visitation, and he asked, like many others, "How are you doing?" I couldn't find the words, since I had been lying to everyone all night, and he said, "You're fucking awful, aren't you?" And we both burst into tears and held each other as we cried. It was so real, so authentic, and exactly what I needed to hear. I was fucking awful. I had just lost the most important person in my life, and I was having to somehow be clear-headed, adult-like, and responsible for all the technical shit that comes after someone dies. It was invaluable to me to hear someone recognize my agony in such a truthful way.

Oh, and while we're at it, don't say dumb shit to the grieving. I know that so many professionals, self-help books, websites, whatever say that it's hard to know what to say, and it is. But fuck, people, don't come up to me and start drilling my head about whether the doctors and nurses actually did all they could do to prevent this. Don't say rude stuff about my dad. Think twice or maybe three times before you say something to the grieving. I appreciate those who reached out and continue to reach out, but just don't be stupid. That's all. And if you don't know how to not say something stupid, a simple hug or a smile is enough. A simple, "I'm so sorry for your loss," is also very real and very appropriate.

Grief takes a long time. There is no time frame, and it is different for everyone. Something that warms my heart and makes me profoundly sad all at once are older people, in their 50s and 60s, who lost their parents long ago, but who say that they still miss them and think about them everyday. I want my dad to stay with me like that. I know he will. I know.

Thank you for bearing with me and reading my heated rant. I needed to ventilate, and I hope I was able to help along the way. It's not often that we are real about grief and death and loss. It's so taboo. But, damn, it's the one thing we all have in common - we will one day die, and until we do, we will experience the death of others. So, keep those who are grieving in mind. Lend a helpful hand. Share a personal story of how you dealt with grief. Listen. Be there. It's really that simple.

1 comment:

  1. very touching and honest post. You are doing amazing! I wish I could give you a big hug right now! Let me know if you want to skype sometime or catch up by email. -Natalie