I met up with the ladies from my grief counselling group. It was about five months since I had seen them last. Things had changed for all of them, some large things, some small, but each viewed it as a success. We met up for dinner out, four completely different people in temperament and interests, but tied by one significant bond – grief. The time flew by, we listened to each other and understood on a level that others cannot, and we agreed to meet again in a months’ time.
That conversation that we shared was more than just words; it’s not just what’s said but also what isn’t said. This was a group in which each one of us had our life partners die. We understand intimately the grief experience each is going through. Our dinner chatter wasn’t morose or depressing. For me it was normalizing. I feel so much better when I realize that I am not dragging my heels on ‘getting over’ what happened. When I hear their stories about their children and listen to how they are dealing with the new family dynamics, I recognize that it is new to all of us.
Death has a ripple effect through a family and through friends. It takes a long time to rebuild. And, I guess, rebuilding allows for change, you can’t have what was, so you have to figure out what will do. I don’t think this is short changing the rest of the family, not at all. I think that my children are doing the same thing – figuring out the new way. They have to deal with the ‘what do we do about mom’ question. It’s their question not mine, I think it’s natural to worry about your remaining parent after one has died. Worry about all sorts of things – worry that I could die too, sooner rather than later, that’s a big one; worry that I may need more than they can give; and worry about whatever else 20-something year olds would worry about.
It’s so complicated, this whole business. That adage is so true, that the only way to really understand someone else is to ‘walk a mile in their shoes.’ Which, of course, we simply cannot do, but at least we can try. I can try and understand how my children feel dealing with the death of their father, and they can try to figure out what their father’s death has meant and done to me.
Try – what a great word, it fits on a couple of levels. I try, you try – its effort – directed to an experience in life that can actually be called quite trying.