I recently read an article about grief and I can't shake one theme. This is the quote, "We have no control over the fact that someone we thought we couldn’t live without did the unthinkable and died. We have no control over how other people will react to this news, or to how they may interact with (or avoid) us in the aftermath."(Alisha Krukowski, Hello Grief website article)
The phrase that keeps resonating in my head is in regards to how other people react to the news and how they avoid us. It amazes me that people can actually avoid you after you have lost someone so significant in your life. And what amazes me even more is when those people are family and the people they are avoiding are the children! And what if it is the family of the person who died? You may be reading this and think that it is not possible. Or maybe you are reading and know it to be true. Either way, this is what is known as "secondary loss".
The phrase, "You find out who your friends are" is a very true statement. You even find out who your family is. These secondary losses can really throw you for a loop. They leave you bitter, hurt, and even confused. You wonder why these people have been avoiding you. Is it you? Is it them? Is it the new life you have begun since the loss of your loved one? Do they sit back in judgment over your choices?Is it because they have no idea what to say? Is it because seeing you or your kids makes them feel the depth of their own grief? I don't have the answers. I can only speculate and assume the answers to these questions. I have no solid answers as to why certain people in my own life have avoided me and my children since my first husband died. There has really only been one loss that I know for certain the reason. Even knowing the reason has still left me bewildered. I can't believe people sometimes. I can't believe that in your darkest moment of life, that someone who claims to love you would abandon you because you aren't handling your grief like they think you should. Who can tell you how to grieve? It really amazes me to say the least. But that story is for another entry.
The aftermath of grief can be a very messy thing. Once the shock of the loss has worn off a bit, things begin to change. During the first days and weeks following the loss, it seems that your house is always full of people, the phone is constantly ringing, and the mailbox is full of cards and letters.But after a while, things begin to calm down. People go about their lives, "business as usual". You are left with the reality that your "business as usual" will never be the same. You and your kids are the ones whose daily lives are affected by the loss. You feel forgotten. You feel abandoned. You feel alone. It only makes the loss that much more enormous. You wait for people to reach out. It is so hard for those who have lost to reach out. We don't want to bother people.We want to try and stay strong. We assume that since they aren't reaching out, they are just too busy and you don't want to burden them with what you are going through. And perhaps there is that unspoken truth that maybe they just think you need to get over it and they are tired of listening to you cry and grieve. I know that life can get busy. I know that in my life I have been guilty of allowing too much time to pass before I reach out to someone I know who has suffered a loss. But some people have dropped me out of their lives completely. It is strange. I may never know the answers. I know that everyone whose lives were touched by Erik have suffered in some way since his death. But no one has suffered greater than me and my kids. We were his life. We were his everything! He was our everything! The sting of his death is still very real and intense. Perhaps people think that since I have remarried, I no longer grieve. That couldn't be further from the truth. You never "get over" the loss of someone so significant in your life. You just learn how to live with it. You also have to learn how to live with the reactions and actions of other people. I don't have any control over other people and how they have chosen to handle their own grief. I can only control myself and my own actions.
This is all just food for thought for anyone who has lost or for those who are friends/family with someone who has lost. Maybe this can help you. Maybe you will think twice before you judge. Maybe you will make more of an effort to keep in touch with that person. I don't know. I just know that I have been chosen to walk this path and I want to be able to help others. I don't want my pain to be in vain.