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.