This is where you can find some advice--to those going through the valleys of grief as well as those who support them. Some of the advice is the same--and some is very different. Please read them both.
FOR THOSE GRIEVING
"I promise--it will get easier to breathe."
A young woman who lost her dad at the age of 13.
Someone told me once that when a loved one dies, actually two people die: the other person and the person you were with them. That explained to me why the grief goes so deep and lasts so long. And why it takes a while to create the new you.
I wrote this a couple of years ago for a book I'm writing, so I'm adding it here.
"S/he hasn’t gone anywhere—s/he’s with us in our hearts”
Oh my god, I hate this one!
Seriously, unless you’re the reincarnation of Norman Bates or recreating “Weekend at Bernie’s” for some unknown reason (they’ve already made a sequel…proving that bringing back something isn’t always a good idea), the person is dead. Really dead.
We have such a strange relationship with death—it’s seen as both the ultimate punishment (by death penalty advocates) and the ultimate reward (by most religious people). No wonder we do all we can to distance ourselves from it—including saying things like “S/he hasn’t gone anywhere—s/he’s with us in our hearts” and “Now s/he’s part of the Light—you’ll see her/him all the time!”
So, I’m calling bullshit on bullshit.
I know people do their best to comfort the bereaved…but you have to realize those statements dishonour the dead and discount the living. It’s just a platitude that has no basis in Physicality…and that’s where this death thing is happening!
Don’t get me wrong—I see more dead people in a day than Haley Joel Osment—I know the Soul doesn’t die. But the expression of that Soul in THIS timeframe/dimension/reality; the unique Being and signature; the accoutrements of a singular human being, are gone. Period.
This is your shot at life. The only one. Any other focus is being done by another you. The Grand “You” is eternal…this perspective is unique to this perspective. What a shame to discount the you your family and friends know and love by only looking at “the big picture.”
You know what—I’m sure people mean well when they say this or things like it, but I’m going to speak on behalf of many who’ve had to go through this: I’m tired as HELL of being patronized and placated by some foofy-ass New Ager who doesn’t seem to have compassion enough to see beyond some platitude and snippet of jargon to the fact that I'm SAD. If someone can’t handle their own feelings about death and they don’t want to acknowledge that it’s painful and shitty—then leave me alone! All of that “Love and Light” crap doesn’t make it any better…in fact, it makes it worse, because now I feel like I have to pretend I’m not sad and take care of someone else. Goddamn it!
Please don’t try to say something to make it better. It SUCKS—and it’s not going to get better until it gets better…and there’s no timetable for when that’ll be.
Everyone I know hugs hello and good-bye—and I will never, ever have another one of his famous hugs. They enveloped you and, no matter what was going on in your day or whether you were male or female, those hugs said that, for just those few moments, it was all ok.
Seven billion people can line up to talk to me—and I’ll never, ever hear her voice call me “Old Bean” again. I’d always wanted a nickname—one that was rooted in love and felt like a secret handshake…and I was the only one she called that.
No matter what I do, or where I am, they’ll never finally say they’re proud of me and I’ll never get that apology—or give it.
I’ll never do another improv sketch with one of the funniest men ever to exist on the planet; or eat the Christmas cookies from a recipe that was never written down; or get the best foot-rub in the world—no strings attached. Ever, ever, ever.
Want to know how to handle someone who has just experienced the death of a loved one? Say “Oh my god, I’m SO sorry!!!” Don’t say “I’m sorry for your loss”—it sounds like an insincere gas station sympathy card. If you can’t think of something to say, say “F*CK—I can’t even think of anything to say!” That’s honest…and it’s how I feel. Just say you’re sorry…and mean it.
Want to do something? Hug the crap out of me or bring me food. Take the kids to the dollar store or a movie, anything that gets them away from the bad perfume and too many stranger-hugs. Or three months from now, when my family and friends from out of town are gone and things have settled down and it’s finally dawning on me that life does go on and this is my new “normal,” come over for a visit with a giant chocolate bar and a Vogue Magazine or take me out for a decadent pastry and a fancy coffee or watch football with me and yell obscenities at the idiots on the field. Something that seems regular and mundane and loving.
That’s what I need; not a well-meaning but condescending reminder that s/he isn’t dead.
Because I have proof otherwise.
Please remember--this is written from the Physical stand-point. I still talk with dead people who want you to know they're around. It's just not the same.
FOR THOSE WANTING TO GIVE SUPPORT
Read everything to the left.