It’s the day after that catches me off guard
It’s not often I write more than once a month. I debated on this one, but I know too many people who have lost loved ones to leave the thoughts unwritten.
Yesterday was the anniversary of Eric’s death (my first husband). Thirteen years. I forgot what day it was until a dear friend texted and said she was thinking of me. I was tempted to keep forgetting, stay busy with the details of the day, and not think much about it. But something in me pushed back.
I want to remember, I want to pause, I want to be sad. Eric died. He’s no longer here. Many people are sad because of this reality.
And many of you are sad because your loved ones have passed away and are no longer with you.
I want to remember those who are gone. Sometimes the memories are easy, happy, and bring a smile. Sometimes the memories are difficult, painful, and it would be easier to forget them. I have a mix of both kinds of memories.
Eric died on a Sunday morning. The rest of the day was a daze for me. I remember sitting in my living room. My dear friend, Pam, was in the kitchen washing dishes, then she offered me something to eat. I didn’t have an appetite but she said I should try and eat something. My sister had a list of people to call. I was numb.
Monday morning I began to feel reality set in. I cried and cried in bed. I didn’t know if I’d ever stop crying. It truly felt like the tears were endless. Eric was gone. My life was forever changed.
And this year, thirteen years later, it’s the day after that got me again. Yesterday, the anniversary, was ok. Today, I woke up feeling heavy and sad. Lonely.
Here’s the thing I’ve learned about grief: it’ll snuggle up to you at the most unexpected times. It’ll wrap around your heart in an instant and not let go for hours or days or longer. Grief comes and goes without a lot of rhyme or reason.
And there are a lot of folks who don’t get this. Which can be tough for those of us who do. It’s hard to find the space to talk about our loss, our grief, our loved one. So I want to keep talking about it even though it’s a little difficult. It’s what Eric would want, I think.
Eric was the kind of person who wasn’t put off by difficult conversations. He confronted friends, family, colleagues, bosses. He didn’t care if he ‘ruffled some feathers.’ He believed in talking through the tough things. He taught me so much about communicating. And as I write this note, I can’t help but believe he’d want this conversation to happen, too.
People say ‘time heals all wounds’ and ‘you have to move on.’ I’ve never cared for those platitudes. They have never provided comfort for me and I don’t know anyone who does like them, frankly.
Talking about and remembering our loved ones honors their memories. It keeps them alive in our hearts.
If you know someone who has lost a loved one, rather than telling them to move on, help them preserve the memories, listen to their stories, be present with a few tears. It’s ok.
When you don’t know what to say, try: ‘I don’t know what to say, but I’m here with you and I’m so sorry for your loss.’ Or don’t say anything at all and just be present. It’s amazing how comforting that can be.
There’s not a clear conclusion to these thoughts. They come and go. Sort of like life comes and goes.
My love to those grieving the loss of someone dear to you. May their memory live on in your heart and may they inspire you to live each day connected to what and who matters most.