It seems perfectly normal to me, to think of those we’ve lost over the holidays. I posted a photo of a boyfriend who passed away many years ago on my Facebook wall this week. It was nice to share memories with those who knew and loved him as well. A kind of validation that he mattered. Then there were those who didn’t know him, but were interested in knowing more about him, and still others who sent a barrage of sympathy. I’m sure it was coming from their hearts – we all want to be kind and support our friends, but a few presumed they knew how I was feeling and wanted to offer unsolicited advice.
Friends close to my heart have lost loved ones over the past few years too. I know that awkwardness of not knowing exactly what to say? Of genuinely wishing you could dry their tears and shield them from the pain, but it is not about us, it is about their journey through coming to terms with loss. I think it’s important to be cautious that we don’t project our own feelings, or fear of feelings, onto others when offering sympathy.
I can’t think of anything more healthy than missing someone you once loved deeply – the time to worry about me is when I don’t share memories. I am a sentimental creature by nature, which has always been evident in my blog and other old photos I have posted, so why such a knee-jerk reaction to this photo?
I can assure you I am not wallowing in the depths of depression, so please don’t jump to conclusions. Michael had a significant impact on my life. Sharing that photo was indicative of the fact I have come to terms with the loss. I can remember him with a smile today, rather than tears… but even if there were tears, that would be totally appropriate too.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve, it is a highly personal process. At the time, I discussed the despair that engulfed me with those I felt safe doing so. People who didn’t try to fix me, because no one else can alleviate that pain. You just have to feel it, and move through it in your own time.
I was really fortunate – the people I turned to simply loved me, and let me cry. They listened and didn’t judge, or try to tell me how to feel. I will always be grateful for their patience and support.
I appreciate your concern, thank you. Please know I am totally at peace with that part of my past, in fact, I had a particularly fun weekend full of Christmas parties, art, and good friends. What struck me as odd was the feeling that I needed to justify something as simple as posting a picture of a loved one.
My motivation for this blog post is certainly not to shame anyone in any way, but hopefully to better equip you for the next time you want to comfort someone you perceive as experiencing loss. It is important to acknowledge and to let someone grieving know that you care, but beyond that, unless they ask for more, just be available and willing to listen. Let them have the space to go through the process however they need to. We all deal with loss differently, and each loss in itself may effect us differently, so there is no one-size-fits-all advice you can offer, anyhow.