Chances are if you’ve landed on this page, some sort of condolences are in order. I’m sorry for your loss. I don’t care what that loss was… your very best friend, your spouse, a parent, a child, the unmarried love of your life, the cashier at the grocery store that you never asked out, or your goldfish. It doesn’t matter who that person was. If you miss them and you hate the fact that they are gone, I’m sorry that you have to deal with that pain. It sucks.
I’d say I get it, but nobody 100% gets what you are going through. Every loss is just as different and personal and individual as the relationships from which they came. Nobody can know what you are feeling as an individual except you, so no one can tell you what you should or shouldn’t feel.
Some people grieve openly and publicly and put it all out there for the world to see. I’m one of those, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this post. Some people put on a brave face for the world, or their kids, or their family and breakdown at night when they finally have alone time. Some stuff it down completely and put it out of their mind. Some cry. Some get angry and yell. Some get quiet and reflect. Some move on quickly, and some don’t. There is no right way or wrong way to process and handle loss. (Though try to keep it within the confines of the law or you will likely end up in prison.) It is okay to be okay, and it is okay to not be okay at all. That’s the thing about grief, there are no rules. There is no map, believe me I wish there was. I’d even take an instruction manual written by Ikea at this point. But it doesn’t exist.
But there are those people who have known close personal loss, and those people do seem to “get it” more than those who haven’t. When I lost my husband at 34 years old, I was lucky enough to be pointed in the direction of a group of individuals who “get it” more than most people do. We Do Care is a non-profit organization that has introduced me to other young widows and widowers like myself. We use the term widow/widower to include unmarried widows and unmarried widowers. The piece of paper and tax breaks don’t make the pain of losing your love, your partner, the parent of your children any different in my opinion.
I was finally able to sit in a room full of people who didn’t give me the “pity look” when they asked how I was doing. I was able to discuss how to approach the new normal that had become my life. When one of us has had a bad day, the rest are there to rally and encourage because we have all been there at some point or another and we know what it is like to have to search deep inside yourself for the will to just get out of bed in the morning. We laugh at the jokes that make those who “don’t get it” highly uncomfortable.
I’m not saying we have all the answers. Far from it. But to the extent that anyone can ever really know someone else’s pain, we get it. So we’ve started this blog. This is our very first post. I’m hoping that sharing our stories and what we’ve learned can serve two purposes. One, it can help us. Writing is an outlet far too few use. Sometimes, you just need to vent to people who understand and won’t judge you. Two, we’re hoping it can help someone else. Anyone else. I’m already spinning with different ideas on blog post topics, and if any one of them helps someone else deal with this path of losing a loved one, then it is worth it.
At the end of the day We Do Care gave me hope. And my goal is that this blog can spread that hope farther than our little corner of the universe, to anyone who could use some. That hope comes from community. It comes from connecting with people who understand because they have been there. Hopefully through this blog our community will grow.
Written by Katie Shaughnessy.