Don’t tell someone who is faced with losing someone that you are going to do something…and then never do it.
I have found myself over the past number of years sharing my story about death and sickness and grief with those who find themselves in similar situations. It can bring a teeny bit of comfort, feeling like you are not the only one who has felt this darkness. And I have also guided those who don’t know how to handle the situations where they know someone who is going through loss, because I now know what is a good approach to take, being on the receiving end of it.
I have spoken to this one before: Say Something. I don’t care what you say. “I’m sorry.” “I don’t know what to say.” “This must really suck.” Because not saying anything at all is even worse. I understand that those on the outside don’t want to do anything to upset you, but do you know what’s worse? Not saying anything at all. All we want is a bit of acknowledgment. I will never forget returning to Edmonton after spending three months in the hospital and then another month with mom’s death and funeral, and meeting a group of friends for drinks. There was probably at least 12 of us and no one said anything to me about my absence. Not even a “welcome back”. On the outside I was laughing and joking and being my goofy self, but on the inside I was screaming, “SAY SOMETHING!! My mom just fricking died!!! Don’t pretend it didn’t happen.”
But that’s not what I want to focus on today. Today I want to touch on something that I have never shared before. Maybe it has taken me almost five years to get here – yes, five years. But these are things that I still think about and haunt my thoughts. And I am still working on letting go. Maybe this post is letting go. I’d like to think so. I get that people say things to comfort in times of distress, not only for the one they are trying to comfort, but even to comfort themselves. I have heard it all. But what I strongly urge you to never do, is promise that person you are comforting that you will do something and then never follow through. Because you will soon go back to your life and priorities shift and you forget your words. But that person you said them to? They latch on to it. And they don’t forget. And the comfort that you tried to bring them turns into resentment. And five years later they are still thinking about it. And working on letting it go…
And ii can be anything. Saying you will come and visit, or drop off that book, or bring over supper…anything. Because to you, your life is still going on. But to the person who is in the depths of hurt, that’s all they know. The things connected to the hurt. And when those promises are broken, your attempt at comfort has been corrupted.
Anth – you may think that this is about that trophy that you still owe me, but it really isn’t. However while writing this, it reminded me that you still do owe me that flipping trophy. And by now it should have at least three tiers. J