Thoughts on Loss

On Sunday I returned home from my Aunt’s memorial in rural Pennsylvania.  She passed away on Easter after a long battle with cancer. Since then I’ve been experiencing a mix of emotions, between feeling super sad, quite numb, and yet very peaceful about it all.  It’s been confusing, to say the least.

Throughout the past month, I will notice myself not wanting to talk about it, mainly because I’m unsure how to talk about it.

I’m unsure of how to talk about my deep love for her, yet how our relationship was also semi-dysfunctional at times. I’m unsure how to share that I went and took care of her for 4 days in January and watched the destruction of cancer on her body, and how scary that was, yet how I truly learned what it meant to “serve with God’s hands” during that time.  I’m unsure of how to talk about how deeply my Dad loved his sister and how much I know he misses her.  Or how grateful I am that she is no longer suffering, and that the way she died on Easter was such a blessing (apparently, many a Saint has prayed to die on Easter).  And I’m unsure of how to also tell people that in all of this I am okay…even at moments when I feel like I’m not…I’m so okay and so grateful that my sweet Jonny has been my rock throughout all of this.

And I notice that when I do share, people are unsure how to respond to me.  On the plane ride home on Sunday, I reached out to four of my closest girlfriends to share about the weekend and how hard it was for me, and only one of them responded.  The rest completely stepped over what I had said and moved the conversation to what was fun and exciting in their lives.  And so, feeling unheard and unseen by them, I moved on within the conversation too.

I moved on, realizing that people don’t know how to respond to grief….or how to respond to things that are uncomfortable.  And that I, someone who is constantly so in touch with my own emotions, currently doesn’t know how to respond to it all either.  Because I don’t know if there is an easy way to understand it.

I keep it quiet because I don’t know how I’m feeling.

But then when I do share so that other people can hold for me, then they close up, or don’t respond at all.

When I’m in conversation with people and I say, “I was in PA for my Aunt’s memorial” so many people completely skipped over the comment.  They act like I didn’t even say that sentence.  They just move right on to the next thing.

It’s completely baffling.

No wonder I haven’t wanted to share.

And yet, I know that I’m contributing to the uncomfortableness of it all.  Because I’m uncomfortable about it too.

I’m currently reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book Option B.  It has been helping to explain death, and grief, and how to show up for yourself and others even when it is uncomfortable.  It’s really good, and in my opinion should be required reading for all humans, so that we can all strengthen our empathy muscles, and learn how to relate compassionately to the topic of death.

And so, I’m posting this not for people to tell me they are sorry, or to have sympathy for me.  I’m not looking for that (though I am very open to receiving your loving).  I’m sharing because it helps to break down the barrier within myself a bit when I do…and remove some of the discomfort.  And in this I hope that if any of you have ever felt like this, that you know that you aren’t alone in the discomfort.  So, I share this #truesday today in service to expansion, vulnerable truth telling, acceptance of what is, and love.  Always in love.