I have been thinking lately about all of the things I’ve learned since Finley died. I think it started when I was writing my Right Where I Am post – thinking of how my life has changed and more specifically the way I have changed as a person.
Before we lost Finley I had never really experienced the death of someone that had a true impact on my day to day life. The death of our marching band director when I was 15 was definitely horrible – he was such a role model for most of us in the band and in the community. I felt that loss keenly, especially when a new director took over the band and the thing that I loved the most in life began to change in ways that we didn’t like. It was hard, but it was one of those things. We were able to cherish the memories we had of him and truly know that he’d lived his life to the fullest. It was terrible, but I was able to heal from it.
I probably used to be the person who would try to say the right thing to people who were experiencing grief. I’m sure that I probably almost always said the wrong thing.
Grief makes people uncomfortable. It’s hard to see somebody you care about going through something so horrible; something that will likely forever change them. It’s hard to have obvious reminders that life doesn’t always go as planned. I think the hardest thing for people is that they feel so helpless – there is nothing that they can DO to make it better. And that’s when people start saying the wrong things, or even avoiding the person who is grieving.
I maybe used to be that person. Uncomfortable around such overwhelming pain. I used to believe mind over matter could solve anything. I used to think there were always solutions.
I know better now. I know that someone who is grieving only needs people who can be there and can face the situation directly. The grieving need people who can sit in silence if need be, who can be a shoulder to cry on if need be, and they especially don’t need people who judge them for their reactions to this gaping hole in their lives.
I’ve learned a lot because my son died. I still wish I could go back to being the naive person I was before, as it would mean Finley was still here – but if there is anything good that has come out of such a horrible situation, it would be my ability to abide with the grieving. I now feel like I could endure anything and keep going, and I hope that in time it means I will be better able to be there for the people I care about.
There are five things I’ve come to realise most about grief while walking my own grief journey:
This has been especially true for me. Through my openness, this blog and so many of the people I’ve met, I feel I’ve created more of a life beyond the grave for Finley. He lives in my heart and I mother him in whatever ways I can.
I didn’t realise this before Finley died. I didn’t know just how differently my husband and I would grieve and how we would cope with the loss. Finley is my son and he is Steve’s son, but that has meant different things to each of us. The most important part of this is knowing that it is normal and okay to feel like you are on different grief journeys – as long as you can both accept that the other partner is grieving in a way that is necessary for themselves, I think in the end it can only bring a couple closer together.
People always want to talk about the five stages of grief without ever really understanding them. I know I’ve had people telling me how I should grieve or imposing timelines on my grief, sometimes even without intention.
I can honestly say that I have experienced all five of the grief stages, though they did not come in order, and I’ve revisited each of them on more than one occasion. Sometimes I experience them all at the same time. Sometimes I don’t experience any and the next day I’m in a slump again. It’s okay to go through all of these emotions – in fact, I feel like the only way to the other side of this grief is straight through it. No pretending.
There will always be people who think that they know what is best for you when you’re grieving and usually they have the best of intentions – nobody wants to see you hurting. In my experience, being honest with everyone about where I’m at, expressing myself and doing exactly what I feel I need to do has been the best way forward for me.