Recently I had someone, truly trying to be helpful, suggest that because I am relatively young, 38, that I could start my life all over again now. I could remarry, have babies and raise a family, again. I should look at this as a blessing in that I could get to do it all twice. This was said as if it was a good thing, an enviable thing. I could only shake my head slowly and reassure her that I would likely be grandmother in the next ten years and had no desire to “do it all over”. She sort of shrugged it off but I could tell she thought it really was a good idea. I didn’t have the heart, or balls, to say what I wanted which was, “That is the dumbest thing I’ve heard all month! How can starting all over possibly help me with this absolute heart wrenching grief over losing John? No, no I don’t want to start over-that is dumb.”
Of course, from the outside looking in there is the truth that those that have not had this loss think that there is, there must, be something good to come from this loss. Some lesson to be learned. Some good to be found and if I would simply be a less reluctant student. I have found in that vein of thought there are those around me who continue to repeat small minded ideas and advice that I will learn something from this, come away as a better, stronger person for it or my most hated platitude of all, that everything happens for a reason and if I could just find that reason and learn my lesson I would grow into a better, wiser person and then be healed and grateful for the experience- I’m going to call out bullshit when I hear it, and that is bullshit.
The truth is that those who believe there is a lesson to be learned often also hold an equally misguided belief that they have already learned this lesson that I am supposed to be learning and so they are then protected from the crazy woman inducing grief that I am enduring. They will be spared this grief because they already know the secret lesson that I am supposed to be so diligently and gratefully seeking and learning. What they don’t know is that there is likely no lesson to be learned here. That there is no chance that I will ever be grateful for this experience, if for only the reason that it meant that my love died, young, strong and beautiful in body and spirit he died-how stupid for anyone to think that the person left behind would ever feel grateful for the experience of losing “their person”, their love.
And I hate to be the one to tell them but they are not immune to loss, to death, to craze inducing grief. Yes, as a younger widow I am a statistical anomaly and yet even on the grief sites I see I am not alone. Not alone in my grief, not alone in my youth of having lost my spouse, not alone even in being an anomaly.
Life is fragile, people get sick and they die. Sometimes they get hurt and they die. People are fragile and no lesson that I could learn from this or that those who think they are somehow walled off and safe against loss because they already know the secret lesson will make being human any more or less fragile. It will not protect those that we love, it will not protect us from loss. Believing that there is a lesson to be learned, spouting off that in everything there is gratitude and beauty and that all things play out exactly as they should be will not protect anyone from grief or from pain.
My truth, is that only in the seeking out of others who are in my statistically unusual state have I experienced any gratitude-for if there is one thing that I am truly grateful for in this crazed and ugly grief it’s that there are others who are willing and strong enough to stand up and shine a light on their own grief, their own sorrow, their wretchedly hard nights and empty days. I’m grateful for those who bravely stand up, share themselves in their raw grief, expose themselves in their most vulnerable state to others in hopes that somehow, SOMEHOW it will help and save both the brave one, and the not so brave one watching from afar. I’m grateful for others, who in their brokenness find the energy to reach out, and in that I suppose there could be a lesson of humanness, that in our most fragile emotional states, that in our standing side by side, and in our willingness to touch each other’s grief that we may find our way out of the isolated world of loss- not as anomalies, not alone, but together.