I read a blog that was written after a very beloved woman left her family and friends too early due to breast cancer. It was titled Grieving in Community and the blog is called Mundane Faithfulness. It was about what it is like to grieve with others through loss. How comfort and healing come with sharing laughter and tears together after a loved one has died.
It is an opportunity that I have sorely missed.
Most of the time grieving is done with family and close friends. But for some of us grieving happens alone. Grieving happens in places that are so inappropriate, like the gym or the church bathroom. Grieving takes place watching a commercial on t.v. or walking down the aisle in Walmart.
It happens in those places because grief must be let out. It must be poured out while sitting over coffee or tea laughing and crying hysterically. If it isn’t, grief takes it upon itself to seep out in places you don’t think it belongs.
You can have family and friends and not have a shared community of a love one who has died. It makes the grieving process a lonely thing to walk through.
There were times after Sams death that I felt as if he may have been a figment of my imagination. I knew that he wasn’t, but he may as well have been in that moment. It is a hard thing to grieve someone no one else ever knew.
I have family and I love them, and they love me. But we are not a community. We are not cohesive. We are fractured, some of us talk, some of us don’t. Some of us see each other, some of us don’t. None of us interact in each others lives enough to have a community to grieve with if one of us dies.
Like with Harriet. I grieve with my foster sister, I talk to my foster brother occasionally, but I didn’t know her friends and she didn’t know mine. And the rest of my family, well, we don’t share that kind of deep hurt.
It was the same when Sam died and the same when my father died. Although with my dad fortunately there wasn’t much to grieve.
I think walking these deaths alone has made the grieving process much longer. More chronic if you will, It has made it harder to process and to let go.
I could have attended some kind of grief support groups over the years. But I didn’t need that, I needed people who knew my loved ones like I did. I needed someone to remember getting our butts handed to us by Harriet, I needed someone to reminisce about the heart of a man named Sam. I needed a community of people to walk through all this mess.
Not that my friends and loved ones have not loved me through and been supportive of me. Not that they haven’t hugged and held and reached out to me. They have. My friends and my family absolutely love me and are awesome to me. But our lives are so separate.
And it is a seperateness that I cannot fix. And I hate it. I hate grieving alone. I hate missing alone. I hate crying alone and laughing alone. Because whether you are sobbing or cackling hysterically in the bathroom at church all by yourself people kind of look at you funny……if there are two of you at least people think you are laughing at a bad joke….or crying at it because it was so stupid.
If I were being fake I would start in on the “So lesson learned I am hopping out there to make some community”. Or “now is the time to build that community and let this be a lesson to me for next time”.
But really all I wanted to do was say that grieving alone is a reality and it is hard and it sucks.
I am not trying to figure out answers to the great dilemma. I am just pointing out that there is a dilemma. and to ask you that if you know someone who is grieving alone please be patient with them. Please let them take to long to get over it. Let them hang on to their grief, let them muddle their way through. Sometimes for some of us, all we have is the grief to proove that someone once loved us.