When I tell people, “My 17 year old brother and father died in a head on collision in the spring of 2007” I can see their faces struggle with this reality, it is amazing how fast the emotions rush past their faces, it goes kind of like this: “holy fuck i can’t believe she just told me that (shock)” “i am so glad that it didn’t happen to me (guilt)” “it could happen to me if it happened to her (fear),” “i would have never known if she hadn’t just told me that (disbelief)” ”struggle to find the right thing to say (sympathy, but sometimes empathy)” while all this is happening on the person’s face I am waiting for the inevitable, “I AM SO SORRY” because that is all we know what to say, what do you say to someone after a blow like that? Bottom line is that this is really all we know how to say, it’s the socially acceptable response. We are not taught how to deal with death, especially those who have never experienced it tragically. The closest many of us get is the death of an aged grandparent or family member/friend and usually we are mostly ready for it, the phrase “they’ve gone to a better place” is the one we use in this scenario, again, we don’t know what to say, really, beyond this.
I have stories to tell. I have insight to share. I want to write a part self-help guide part memoir, I want to tell the truth, I want to help those who are not grieving to be there for those who are, beyond the sympathy cards, the condolences, the “i’m so sorry’s”, the flowers and funerals.
It’s possible and it’s not about what you say it’s about how you make us feel.