Ok folks. Time to get real…
Here’s the thing. I know I appear strong and I can make it seem like everything is okay in my new world without John. I’ve always been a strong person and in my day-to-day life, unless you look closely, I can present that face to the world now. It’s easy to convince yourself, if you’re my friend, that I’m “back to normal.” I even had someone ask me on Saturday if I was better now (since it’s been a whole two months since John died). I looked him dead in the eye and said, “No. I’m not better. At all.” Just because I’m not crying most of the day anymore doesn’t mean I’m not still in intense pain.
I think people want, NEED for me to be ok so they can feel fine about things getting back to “normal” in our friendship. So many close friends were there for me in the few months before John died, helping out, checking in almost daily, bringing food, and just holding me up. Then, within weeks of his death, they stopped calling and checking in. They ask how I am when we do chat or see each other, but I don’t think they really understand my answer and sometimes, it’s easier just to say “I’m hanging in there” and leave it at that. I sense their discomfort, the fact that they pray I don’t break down because they wouldn’t know what to say or do to help me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming them and I know from what I’ve been learning about grieving that it’s totally normal for this to happen. But here’s the thing that I need to say but have a hard time articulating. I am in severe, deep, intense pain. This is, without a doubt, the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through. My hospice counselor says that, unless you’ve been through the process of grieving someone whom you loved deeply, you can’t really understand what it’s like, the intensity of it, or how long it takes to move through it. If people did understand, I wouldn’t be alone.
I don’t expect anyone to “help” with that pain. There’s no way to do that. I just need to be around people who care about me. I am feeling isolated. I’m spending too much time alone and it’s not good for me. I need support but I don’t want to have to ask for it. Reaching out and saying, “Could you invite me to do something or just offer to come hang out with me or call me every day to check in?” feels uncomfortable and most often, even if I have the intention to reach out, it gets lost in the exhaustion of grief and I never do.
Before John died we had this conversation and I told him it wouldn’t be long after he was gone before everyone would go back to their lives, families, jobs, and problems and I’d be left with me. No one was intimately involved in my life except him and I wasn’t a part of the intimacy of my friends’ or even families’ lives. He knew it was true and he worried about it. Rightly so, it turns out. I know I have amazing friends who love me a lot. I’m just not “top of mind” for them now that a few months have passed. Life goes on for them.
Just not for me. #lovetrumpcancer #livelikejohnny