The worst part of grieving, maybe even of grief itself, is not necessarily the event that caused the pain. It’s what happens after the funeral, after the diagnosis, after the “I’m so sorrys” and “thoughts and prayers.” It’s months later when active support fades. It’s a year later when a tidal wave of memory and pain hits you—seemingly out of nowhere—and you lose your balance for a moment or three. And in an effort to right yourself, to keep yourself from falling into an emotional abyss, you reach out and realize just how intangible sorrys and thoughts really are.
It’s then, my friends, in THAT moment, when the authenticity of your relationships is tested. Some friendships will weaken or be lost together; having suffered under the weight of grief’s aftershocks. These friends have the privilege, the luxury, of forgetting. And they hope you have learned how to forget too—that way they don’t have to deal with your pain. They prefer social media platitudes and quick text check-ins that don’t require much more than fleeting reflections and fast fingers. And you know what? Some of them are just selfish, yes. But what I find to be more true is that many of them are just afraid.
They are afraid that your pain and grief will trigger their own. They resist sitting in the anguish with you—of extending themselves on your behalf—because they recognize that the unhealed parts of themselves will be exposed if they do. And so…well, you let them go. Or you redefine the relationship and lower your expectations. Not out of malice. Not with anger. Just with the understanding that they can’t be the ________ you need in this moment. And that lack of capacity will likely be the filter through which you’ll see any future engagement with them.
Unfortunate, but real.
As I continue to sit with grief upon grief upon grief in this season of my life, I realize that I sit alone mostly. I mean, yeah, I sit with Jesus. I know that’s the Christian thing to say. And I believe that. I believe that that the Holy Spirit is ever present. I know that I sit with the only One who is truly acquainted with what I’m going through. We sit together in the middle of life’s raging seas and sometimes God calms the water and other times God helps me endure the waves.
But I’m human. And sometimes I wish for more…