For those well-meaning family and friends who say, “I know how you feel,” be aware that this statement is usually made because a person is at a loss for words under devastating circumstances. What it can really mean is, “My heart breaks for you and I don’t know what to say.”
If you are going through the grieving process, you need emotional support, so more than words, pay attention to cues and notice those individuals who are truly available to you. You will recognize them by their phone calls, emails, and cards. Those are the people who let you know that they are willing to be there if only to have a cup of coffee and give you their time and a shoulder to cry on when you need it most.
But, this loss is not about others—It is about you. Each one of us came through the birth canal alone. This is another one of life’s experiences that can only be traveled solo. But, certainly having support along the way is vital and being able to have someone you trust is essential. This is the same person or persons that you will most likely remember for the rest of your life because of their caring manner and ability to “be there for you” during your most difficult hours.
We live in a day and age when there are so many time-saving devices, yet it appears that people are more in a hurry now than they have ever been. So, if we are lucky, we catch snippets of their time. This is not easy for someone who has just gone through a loss. More than ever, you need to know that there are people who there for you. An online community can provide that “three in the morning and I just need to talk to someone” answer. It can help immensely and as you reach out to others, you will see that you share a common bond. It can feel like a safe haven where you can be yourself, talk about your grief, and express those emotions that others may not be willing to hear. There are people who need you as much as you need them—All you have to do is reach out.
Somehow, it is impossible to imagine that family and friends attend a funeral and then go back to their own lives. It’s as if a day dedicated to the person who has passed on suffices. But, that is never true for someone who is close to that person—who is an intrinsic part of his or her life. Grief is not over in a day or week—or year. It takes time.
If you are going through the process, you want to give yourself whatever time you need. But, rather than go through it alone, having others to relate to can make a huge difference in how you will cope—and ultimately, how you will heal.
While we come into this world alone and leave alone, there is that time in between that makes all the difference. So, let your “time in between” be your gift—not only to the loved one you lost, but also, to those individuals that you are yet to meet who will need you and all that you have to share from the heart. When you meet people under those circumstances and they have lost someone dear to them, when you hear, “I know how you feel,” those individuals mean it. They are kindred spirits with whom you can be open and share what you are feeling.