Where Did the Support Go?
There seems to be three kinds of people during my grief process.
- People that are judgmental and don’t seem to understand at all
- The people that may be there if you really needed them, but they don’t reach out.
- Your support system.
During the first month everyone seemed to be in the third group. No matter who you were, it seemed as though everyone was about to be my cheerleader to say screw you grief. It’s interesting how it shifted so quickly.
“The best thing about the worst time in your life is that you see the TRUE COLORS of everyone.”
I remember only 2-3 weeks after my husband, James passed away I began getting less and less messages. People also started leaving my messages read. Perhaps they did not know what to reply, but the process started. I remember at the one month mark (February 1st, 2017) my inbox was flooded again. Okay, thank goodness I thought. People are back and ready to help! That process continued and continued while fewer and fewer people reached out until it was only a very small select few.
People that are going through grief…we get it, you do have a life. You can’t be at our disposal 24/7. The thing is, the person that I personally lost would have always been there for me 24/7. He was the one that heard my happy stories, my sad stories, my frustration stories and every story in between. Unfortunately, when the support dwindles down, the lack of a support system around you becomes that much clearer. That empty hole becomes that much more evident.
I want to go into detail a little bit more about these three groups that I have found.
Group #1) I was only 26 years old when James passed away. Were we wanting kids? Yes, eventually…but we were in no rush. At his memorial service the pastor talked a lot about never putting things off. I loved that. Afterwards someone came up to me and asked if I then regretted putting off kids. I’m not sure how I stayed so calm. I simply smiled and said nope. Another example is during my travels, people make comments on a daily basis how much money I must have in order to afford such travels. Once again, nope, just smart with my money. People don’t always mean to make these terrible comments to someone that is grieving, but they just happen. I try and laugh most of them off and realize that most people simply don’t understand. That group is large though and the longer the time has passed, the larger it becomes.
“My husband passed away. I don’t need advice. All I need is for you to gently close your mouth, open wide your heart and walk with me until I can see color again.”
Group #2) This is your largest group. In fact, it is filled with people that you thought would be there for you, that simply are not. Group #2 may have been some of your best friends that do not know what to say to you. They are the ones that say “please let me know if you need anything”. It’s always a nice thing to say, but I can never imagine myself reaching out and saying “hey, this is what I need…”. I’m going to ask the people that are in my life on a regular basis to help me with that. This group means no harm, but they also are the ones that move on quickly, they are the ones that don’t realize how lonely it is during the grieving process and they are the ones that think time heals all wounds. I have news for you, after 15 months, time didn’t heal anything.
Group #3) These people somehow get it. They don’t understand what you are going through, but they are there to listen and to help you in any way they can. For anyone going through grief, we understand that these are the people we most rely and that help us get through each day. The interesting thing about my group #3 is that most of the people in this group I would not have been able to predict. If you asked me a week, a month or a year before James passed away, I would have been sure this list would have been longer, I would have been sure of the people in it and I would have been sure there would be an abundance of support. How interesting life can be.
One of the best places I have found support is on my Instagram site. It seems as though no matter who someone lost or what age they are, grief is grief. At first when I opened up the account I wondered how I could relate to anyone. I’m so young. That’s been one of the biggest things I’ve learned. It doesn’t matter your age, having someone out there that can relate to you is a beautiful thing. They somehow make you feel normal and that the thoughts inside of your head are not actually crazy at all.
I joined an online support group but to be honest, did not find it very helpful. It was full of young widows but they all seemed SO sad. Although I was sad, that was not my goal. It seemed as though they were all stuck and life had defeated them and they were okay with that. Me on the other hand, I was trying to figure out how to live again. This group wasn’t for me but that doesn’t mean it’s not for everyone. If you’re in a larger town there may be great groups to join. Quickly do a Google search and see if that kind of support there is out there for you.
Growing Group 3
You may not know who your direct support system is, but you know you want to have it there. There are some easy ways to help grow (or at least stabilize) this group. The easiest and probably the hardest is to ask for it. If you know someone who has been through grief before, they are an excellent person to reach out to. If you have a friend or family member that has been there for you and has slowly grown apart, perhaps you can try and notice things going on in their life. Make sure that you are a good friend back to them. A quick thank you to people that have been there for you can go a long way. They may not even realize the impact they are having on your life, but YOU DO.
Like every single thing you have realized through grief, it all changes, including your friends. Appreciate Group #3, give Group #2 the benefit of the doubt, they don’t know any better and ignore Group #1.
Thanks for the support the wonderful people I have met going through grief has given me.
Until next month,