“At least you still have Lexi.”
“She’s in heaven now, that should make you happy.”
“Will you ever get back to your old self?”
After a Week 4 hiatus, I’m back. And this week we’re talking about grief and relationships. Whether it’s your spouse, your best friend, or that person at work you hardly know – the experience of intense loss and grief can and will altar your relationships.
Maybe one of your friends has the best intentions, but hurts you with unsolicited thoughts or advice. Maybe it seems like your spouse isn’t grieving at all and is moving on with life as usual. Or maybe, that person you thought you were so close to hasn’t even called to check in.
All of these things (and so, so many more) can happen. They happened to me. I lost friends, gained friends and occasionally wanted to kick someone in the shin (did they really just say that?!)
But through it all, I learned. I grew. And today’s Grief Share lesson reinforced some of those things I experienced. I don’t have the answers or fix-all solutions to any of the relationship struggles that may accompany your grief. But I do know these 5 things you might feel in your relationships, and how I dealt with them in mine…
- You may feel lonely. Like intense, rip your heart out isolation. In the beginning, when I was alone I felt alone. But when I was surrounded by people – even people I loved – I felt an even deeper sense of loneliness. Because even though they could see me, they couldn’t understand me. They couldn’t feel what I was feeling. And facing those those emotions on my own was so overwhelmingly isolating.
- You may feel misunderstood. Maybe you break down crying multiple times a day, or cling to an object of your loved one’s that brings you comfort. Maybe you love talking about the person you lost because it brings you peace, but it makes others around you uncomfortable. Maybe your spouse, mom or brother doesn’t seem to be grieving at all and you wonder why. Don’t…I repeat DO. NOT. compare your grief to the grief of those around you. Kade and I both lost a baby in Chicago. Turns out, it’s my favorite city in the world. I love it and just being there brings me a level of comfort I can’t put into words. When we left the hospital, Kade said he would be fine never seeing Chicago again. Everyone process and feels things differently – they key is respecting one another’s grief process.
- You may feel jealous. Jealous of the relationship or person someone else has that was taken from you. For me, it was jealousy of anything twin-related. Interesting fact: Kade and I had 15 friends/close acquaintances that had twins either in the year before or after us. FIFTEEN. That is a lot of seeing double. Every announcement posted, every cute photo shared, every “twin moment” twisted the knife a little bit deeper. Different types of loss will bring different types of jealousy. Don’t get caught of guard by this emotion in your grief – Don’t get caught up in it either.
- You may feel abandoned. Some people don’t know what to say…so they don’t say anything at all. Maybe you run into a co-worker and they act like nothing has happened. Or maybe a friend you thought you were close to doesn’t bother to reach out. Or someone says something hoping to be helpful, but really they made you feel even more mangled and misunderstood. I can put a checkmark by all of the above. In those moments, we have to have grace. Four ourselves, and for those who hurt us.
- You may feel inadequate. Some friends and family will pour themselves out for you sacrificially. They will give you so much, and you will have nothing to give back in return. Even showing appreciation can be a struggle, because nothing seems to matter but the pain. At the time, you might not even care. Know this – there will come a time when you are able to look back and give back to those people. Let them help you without expectation.
You might feel all of these really difficult things in your relationships in the midst of your grief. But eventually, you will feel good things too. Like hope in a new friendship – let it grow. Like comfort in a hug from an old friend – let them embrace you. Like peace through forgiveness – don’t be afraid to let go. Let yourself feel the good things, too.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.