During the first year after losing my 20 year old son Brandon (who had the brightest smile, perfect dimples, the hardiest laugh and gave the best hugs), I learned a lot. A lot about myself, about people, about God, about death, about grief, about Brandon himself and also about life. These unwanted enlightenments or lessons (or even blessings, depending on my perspective and mindset that day) taught me things that I never wanted to learn. The most harsh one being how to go on without my son.
(not keeping a perpetual count, but it’s probably pretty accurate)
Sometimes, I get my feelings hurt when my village doesn’t check in on me. I know when I’m having a hard day or when I’m deep in grief because I’m the one feeling it. Then at the end of said hard day, when I go to lay down, I sometimes end up thinking, “Well, shoot … no one even checked in on me and said, ‘hey’ or ‘I love you’ or ‘praying for you’ or ‘thinking of you’ or anything.” Then, I start to feel so alone in my grief, like no one cares, like everyone’s life just gets to go on, like I’m on my own little island of sadness.
While talking about this one day with my sweet friend, Deirdre, she told me, “Sarah, you are going to have to teach people how to comfort you.” I was blown away! It was one of the best and most poignant truths that I’ve been told in all of this. I guess I had been assuming that my people somehow automatically knew my comfort needs. I think I felt that they should inherently know to lean in and love me a little extra on my hard days.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll cling to it until I see Brandon face-to-face again, but it is sometimes so hard for me to reach out and communicate my needs because, most of the time, you all are grieving him, too. Then, in all honesty (and transparency … ahem), my nature would take over and the person that I sought comfort in — I would inevitably and even subconsciously abandon my grief and begin to comfort you in yours. Also, as those of us in grief know so well, grief attacks ebb and flow. I get so trapped in the thought that by the time I reach out and say something or ask for help, the “moment” has passed. I know how to “embrace the suck” and how to stand in the moments where I am hanging by a thread, which is normally the will to go on living for Blaine, my youngest son, but I’m learning that I don’t have to do that alone.
I know with all my heart that I’m worthy of comfort and that I am extremely well loved and supported. I’m learning (slowly and daily) that at times and as needed, I may need to say, “Hey, can you come sit with me for a while?” if I want company or comfort. This is so I don’t begin to believe untruths about how much I am loved and prayed for and thought about.
It/me/this is all such a freaking work in progress. It’s hard work. It’s tiring and tedious and exhausting being bereaved …