I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post this morning, I’m getting paranoid about my words necessity these days. I don’t want to force words into a collection of sentences that fall on top of each other aimlessly with no weight, I don’t want to ramble on like I have been at times with no reason. But unfortunately this is my method to madness. Start typing and see where it goes, I think I just have to get better at directing what I want to project, what my fingers are pushing down against and creating. That said, let the rambling begin!
A few things have happened recently, all of which involve close friends losing loved ones. Before everything happened, whenever I learnt a friend had lost someone close to them I never knew what to say. I was always terribly awkward and the words were scripted as I’ve learnt from other demonstrations. “I’m so sorry to hear. I hope you’re okay.” I was sorry, and I did hope that they were okay. It still felt somewhat emptier than I wanted to project, the words never really delivered the sense of sympathy and condolence that I wanted to send.
Now that I’ve been on the other side, I thought that I would know exactly what to say. What actually helped instead of the norm “I’m sorry for your loss, I hope you’re okay. If there’s anything I can do.” This always somewhat annoyed me when people said this, mainly because I thought. Why are they saying sorry? They didn’t kill my dad. Why would they even think I’m okay?? Ha. Right. Then the forever given, “If there is anything I can do.” I got a lot of these, but I saw them as just words. What could these distant friends do to take away my pain? At one stage I made a joke saying, if I asked each person for $10 I would be set. What would the reaction be?
In 95% of the cases, I would say “Thank you lovely x” That was my go to. If they were close friends, I would say “Thank you, feel free to come over whenever. Don’t feel the need to bring flowers, we have enough. Alcohol however…” And thus the flow of flowers grew equal to the flow of gin.
I hated the apology followed by the “I hope you’re okay.” I swore I wouldn’t say the same thing. So when my friends mum passed away, I sent her a message saying that I was very sorry, then I continued to talk about how amazing her mum was and said I was here if she ever needed someone to talk to or someone to listen. I liked hearing stories about my father, it made me feel better. I also liked knowing when people said that they were happy to listen to what I was going through, rather than just offering the statement of an offer. Seemed so contrived. Then the next scenario came up, then I started to understand something.
A friend is losing someone. I was thinking of what to say. I wanted to say sweet things, comforting words, but I didn’t know the person that was being lost. I couldn’t detail qualities to celebrate the persons life, something that I personally felt comforted by. So I was left with the only words that felt right to me. “I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother.” I said, “I hope you’re okay.” I looked at those words, so disappointed and frustrated at what I had come up with. I really wanted to show that I cared, than I realised something. I’d been looking at things so literally that I didn’t realise that they’re the words that are used so often because they’re the perfect words to use.
When people said I’m sorry, I saw it as them somehow apologizing for my situation. As though I had to forgive them, and say, it’s okay? Then I realized, that’s not what it means at all. It’s a feeling. It’s not the feeling of guilt, its the feeling of sympathy, or for some, empathy. A feeling of true pain and sadness for the other person. If any guilt, its the feeling that they can’t empathize enough. When they said, I hope you’re okay, they didn’t mean okay in the definition of being ‘normal’, or of being ‘average’. Because that definitely isn’t the question being asked, no one expects this or hopes for this. They hope you’re okay in the circumstance, they mean, I hope you’re coping. Because coping is something that isn’t a constant, its fleeting and forced at times, and sometimes people can help reinforce it. That’s why they then say, “If there’s anything I can do.” Now I realise, they don’t mean to offer some materialistic thing, some curing object that will be a quick fix. They’re offering assistance.
I feel like what I said just then was somewhat a repetition of where I just said a statement, and than repeated it with different wording. But in my mind, the wording counts. Because in my mind, I didn’t realise what these words meant at the time. It took me not just to lose something to realise the honesty behind these phrases, but to lose something, be currently losing something, and then see that so is everyone else. Then I began to realise that this isn’t just my battle. It’s everyone’s. When I had my loss, it came at a time when I felt no one could understand me, they couldn’t mean what they said because they had no idea. But it doesn’t matter, because loss is universal. It’s not personal – as questionable as that sounds, it is a constant among everyone. Everyone sees it, feels it, goes through it and wants to help and depending on the circumstances, it can either be more intense or more distant at times…
I’ve said before that sometimes I know my writing is jumbled and confusing because that’s how I feel at the time of writing. Right now, I feel like I’m struggling to describe what I’m trying to say… but I think that’s because I’m still struggling to understand for myself. Death. Loss. Life. Its hard and its tricky. Maybe I’ll be able translate this with more clarity as time passes.
To anyone who previously said those words to me, I’m sorry for not understanding at the time. But I do know. Thank you.
Til next time x