HOW TO DEAL?
There will be a moment in your life when you won't get what you want. Maybe it will be a small thing, like realizing someone else ate the last piece of pizza. Maybe it will be a bigger thing like discovering you won't be able to get pregnant. Likely life will string out many inconveniences and disappointments.
To be human is to have your heart may break a thousand times.
A million little what-ifs and never have beens will dance across the screen of your mind. Surely the life you dreamed of means the life you have is incomplete? Surely if your body can't give you what you want you’re somehow inadequate? Surely you're missing out on something?
What if it is true?
What if we can only be happy if we have x,y,or z?
When you lose something whether it's an idea of yourself or something more tangible a marriage, a person, a job; there is no way not to grieve.
Everyone grieves in different ways.
No one way is more valid than the other.
If you're like me, you'll choke back the sadness and endure. Grim faced and full of grit, that's what the stoics do. I'm not one to cry in a bowl of Ben & Jerry's, though I see the value. I never learned to drown my sorrows. I cannot spend too much time emotionally processing with friends or therapists. I was forged in the DNA chamber pot of rationalists and pragmatists. I was raised on The Rolling Stones lyric, "You can't always get what you want..."
I take long hikes or jog or sit in silence. I most often process my grief alone. Unless that grief is just too big to bear and then I share with close friends who I know most definitely won’t offer me pity or an “everything’s going to be alright.” I like friends who don’t treat me like a fragile doll who might break when exposed to sharp edges. Friends who know the depth of their strength and mine and offer a “Man, that totally sucks,” or a “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”
This quirk of my nature sometimes makes me cold to other people's pain. Sometimes it makes me better equipped to sit with someone's grief or even my own. I am the rock.
We have arrived at a place in history where people firmly believe there's only one right way.
To Run the country. To Raise a child. To Take care of your health. To Grieve.
Those who don't reside in our box, they're not just wrong, their worse. Worse then us for not understanding the truth that I know to be so right. I mean, I’m so right about this! Sure, I’m not a doctor, a therapist, a professor, but I know what I’m talking about here. I've got this life thing all figured out.
So often those of us who grieve a loss don’t have to deal just with the cold sting of disappointment or heart break, we have to endure other people’s need to help.
Enter unsolicited advice.
You shouldn't be so upset about the pizza, you’re over reacting.
I can’t believe you’re not more upset about the infertility. Are you sure you’re ok?
Well, risking looking like a total jerk, most days I get way more pissed about the last piece of pizza than my last follicles. What can I say? I have an appetite for life.
There's no scenario in my life where I'm not the one who has to figure it out. Stoics are so often stubborn as well. I don't really care if you think I should go vegan or cry when I'm sad. I'm from the East Coast. If I want your advice, I'll ask for it.
Maybe that seems rude or callous, well I think it’s particularly rude to offer irresponsible life advice to someone who is in pain.
Beyond that because people want to help and grief makes people uncomfortable, those in grief often end up having to spend a lot of time consoling and/or reassuring others. That they’re ok, that everything is going to be ok, or helping other people come to terms with their loss. This is an extra kind of hurt that feels particularly alienating. Some problems don’t have solutions.
Hearts aren’t vacuums, there’s no one way to fix them.
The greatest gift so often to be given is your presence.
A question, “How are you?” “Do you need anything?” “No, well hey, I’m here if you change your mind.”
If you're in pain, let me reassure you that you don’t have to be ok. You’re allowed to come a little undone. All those tiny cuts that make your heart ache, you get to feel however you need to about them. You don't need to rush to a solution.You don't need to show everyone how strong you are and you don't have to share your inspiring story of overcoming. Your heartache is your property, if you want to invite others in, great. If not, that’s fine too. Do with it what you need, not what others expect you to need.
I embrace the wealth of your being. I don't need you to be different.
I don't need you to swallow my prescription of happiness.
I don’t need you to be ok.
As I read once on the internet, ”If you can't look on the bright side, I'll sit with you in the dark." Or if the dark is too much, let's have a donut and hold hands in sunshine.
Because your pain is not about me, it’s about you.
I'm here for you, whoever you are, wherever you are, you are not alone.