When things got really hard; I stopped writing. Mostly because I didn't have anything positive to say. And saying negative things just feels like your attention (or sympathy) seeking or just generally being a downer. And though the truth is that my life is full of wonderful things worthy of deep gratitude, it also really, really sucks sometimes.
Grief is the worst feeling that I've ever encountered. It's unlike anything I've ever know; gut-wrenching, agonizing pain and sadness muddled with anger, helplessness, resentment, sorrow and uncertainty. Everything that you've ever known suddenly doesn't make sense. The faith that I'd always innately had isn't there anymore. It comes in waves and without warning. Grief is paralyzing. Next in line after grief is loneliness. Another empty, painful feeling that can knock you immediately off balance. Being surrounded by people while feeling completely alone is horrible. Empty. Watching everyone else's life move on while yours is still shattered in a million pieces on the floor. Spending all of your energy walking through life with a smile on your face, trying to be some fraction of the person you once knew... Life is lonely, because it is no longer yours. Life becomes about making everyone else feel better, to let them all believe that you're OK.It's lonely because no one ever asks.
Once in a while I'd get an "Are you Ok?" thrown my way. I hate that phrase. It forces a halfhearted "yeah; fine." to make someone else feel like they've done their duty. It's an out to asking the real question, which is "how are you?" With time you learn to cope. And you learn to deeply appreciate the people who aren't too afraid to ask the ladder question. You learn how to move forward, even when you don't want to. You learn that you are strong. And enough.
I am stronger than I ever imagined. And I am OK, regardless of how I feel in a given moment. I am OK and I no longer doubt that I will be OK.
I say this now, because I think I've lived through the worst of it. I am absolutely still grieving, but I've learned to cope. I have a handful of incredible, brave family and friends who have consistently been willing to ask me, to cry with me, to listen and to just be with me. They have helped carry the weight of this for me. They are forever written into my story and I am forever grateful for their support.
But what I want to say is if you know someone who is grieving. Someone who is hurting for any reason, stop being so afraid to ask them. Yes, it's painful to hear our loved ones hurt. But they are hurting either way. Be strong enough to bare some of their weight, even if only for a few minutes. Don't ask then if they are ok. Ask them what you actually mean; ask how they are. Ask how they are coping. Realize that they have to be brave every day. Let that encourage you to be brave, too.
I have drafted many posts about these feelings of loneliness, but it never felt right to post. It seemed like the most desperate attempt at soliciting attention. The reason that I've decided to post it this time because I know now that I am OK. But I hope that this will benefit someone else who is hurting. Or better yet, that it will make all of us take a moment to consider our intentions when planning our actions so that what we say is what we mean. Be brave, friends. It's worth it.