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Showing Up, Sometimes That's The Best We Can Do

This week I attended the funeral of a friend’s mother. Since John died funerals are harder than they used to be. I flash back to few memories I have of the week John died, of his funeral, of his body there but not there. It’s hard to be present for others in their time of need when your mind flashes back to such trauma. But we try to be don’t we? The best we can, we try to still be there for the ones we love, in whatever broken way we can be, because we know just how shitty it really is to be the person in the center of the grief circle.

Part of this week, and of me trying to be supportive, was to find an appropriate card to give. This sounds so easy, so simply a task but its actuality was stressful and infuriating. Card after card spoke of rainbows, the other side, sunshine, and memories that bring peace to the griever’s heart and on and on the platitudes went. Card after card I read and put back in frustration.

Where are the cards that tell the truth I thought? Where are the cards that say, “this is hard as hell and I”m so sorry you’re gong through it”, or how about “I know that you’ll be emotionally unhinged for a long time after this and that’s okay” or how about “there will be days in the near future where you don’t want to get out of bed and other people’s voices will annoy you and you will want to scream at the world to STOP rotating already because someone important is missing here!!”

I personally would like to see a card that says, “for the next several months your brain will be in a fog while its sifts out this new reality but you will eventually move forward one horribly difficult and incrementally slow step at a time, but no matter how long it takes I will still be here and I will still love you” that would be the card I would pick.

In the end I sent one that said I was caring for her and holding her in my heart while she grieved. It would have to do, that was the best I could find. I dropped my card in the box at the funeral, greeted the family and my friend and sat through the funeral crying quiet tears, for her, for her loss, and for her pain. I also cried for John as the flashbacks flew at me at a speed I was unprepared for. For that hour I sat motionless, hot tears streaming down my face unashamedly. For that hour I did the best I could do be of support for someone I loved.

Later I chastised myself for not finding a better card, for tears selfishly shed, for not saying something more wise or helpful but I keep reminding myself that my heart is still deeply hurting and my own wounds still so vivid and raw that I really did the best I could. I showed up for someone I love when they needed me to, maybe not as strong or as wise as I wish I could have been, but I showed up and that was quite an emotional feat for me, in acknowledging this I must also remember to be gentle in judging myself, acknowledge that I gave what I had to give and instead of being harsh with myself simply allow it to be enough. Sometimes, the little we have to give simply has to be enough.

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Comment by AEDforever (Ali) on June 27, 2015 at 8:57pm

Flannery, showing up is a worthy and honorable thing. Not always easy, but for sure honorable. I like your card sentiments and I think they ring true.  You are a sincere person and your words touch me in their honesty. Keep writing the please. 

Comment by Callie2 on June 27, 2015 at 7:38pm
Cards, you have to wonder how they come up with some the wording. I also get annoyed with other types of cards, especially birthday cards- their attempt to be funny is downright insulting!

I certainly understand the difficulty attending the funeral. The fact you were able to stay was UN-selfish as far as I'm concerned. Of course you could not help thoughts running around your head! I think each and every funeral will remind us of our own loss, but as time passes, it is not as intense and we are more able to focus on another's loss. As far as having something to say--saying you're sorry for their loss is quite adequate. What else can you say? Your presence said the rest.
Comment by bis4betsy on June 27, 2015 at 8:24am

Your honesty is so refreshing.  I don't think I could have handled it at the time because my brain was so foggy, maybe it's better to hold off on the truth for awhile.  

Glad you could overcome your own grief and be there for them.  Funerals are a challenge for me too now, but your presence might be something they appreciated more than any card.  

Comment by laurajay on June 27, 2015 at 4:00am

Sweetheart.  With your gift of words, for the next funeral  just buy a generic card that says  thinking of you in your time of sorrow  and then  inside the card on a blank card 3x5  or paper...write out exactly the words you have expressed here or close to them.  speak from your heart and your knowledge as a widow--refer to the deceased person as well if you have an a memory or two to share with the survivor.  I do this all the time as  no sympathy cards are every quite right to me - so literate or not I include what comes to me when I start writing---recently when one of my husband's favorite aunts died I included comments about her beautiful smooth skin  and her angelic calm demeanor whenever she played cards with the men in the family---real stuff   etc.  You have inner ability to say it like it is---you do it frequently in your blogs--don't beat yourself up looking to buy the right card.  Make it the right card by adding your heartfelt words-  it's the best choice-the kindest action-  loving and honest.  You are gifted my friend-never forget  it.   love lj

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