It’s time to bare my soul a little. Although I write this about my own situation, I suspect that a small fragment of those recently bereaved may identify with my thoughts below.
During my marriage with Kevin I had a deep feeling of belonging. I knew that I mattered to him, he knew he mattered to me. With his death, I find myself wondering how much I matter. Not with respect to my family, the bond there is very strong. I wonder how much I matter in general. Is this insecurity resulting from loss or is it a natural reassessment of my place here on earth? They are not the same thing and quite simply I don’t know which it is. All I know is that sometimes I wonder how much and to whom do I really matter?
I think that mattering for most people is very important. I know that if I asked, most of the people I know would say ‘of course you matter,’ and they’d mean it. But what does mattering to someone mean? How is it conveyed? Is it by picking up the phone and calling them, stopping by for a visit? Does it mean thinking about them, praying for them? Everyone is different and has different needs in this regard.
Being in a relationship generally sends the message of belonging, value and also that you matter to someone. This is, in most cases, a comforting and desirable state. When a relationship ends it brings with it emptiness and some sort of self-reflection, often a reassessment of one’s worth. During this phase I think there are a myriad of paths that one can take, some good, some bad. I think this is where it becomes important to know that you do matter, because, regardless of circumstances, knowing that you matter can help you make the right choices and decisions moving forward.
So how do you know if you matter? For me, it’s a question that I can only answer for myself. During this bereavement process I find that I need different things at different times and from different people. So far, have they been there for me? For the most part, yes. I have to qualify that answer for the obvious reason – if people don’t know what I need, then they can’t be there for me, because they don’t know what I need. It’s a communication thing and the onus is on me. Unfortunately, it’s easy to shut down, withdraw and stop the communication, so much easier than you would believe. Then, having created my own self-imposed isolation, my thoughts tend be unsettling, without focus, accompanied by the worry that maybe I just don’t matter.
Thankfully I feel like I am on the other side of this mindset now. I still have occasions where I could easily shut down, especially with the added emotional pressure that this year’s Christmas brings. People really do want me to be excited about Christmas and some seem compelled to try and lift my spirits. Their intentions are good and I recognize that; however, this activity does the opposite – it painfully reinforces the loss and associated sadness rather than the joy of the season. A few months ago, I likely would have shut down; now, instead, I think about shutting down but don’t. A small step forward, but still a step.