Some of my earliest post-Jocelyn memories have fallen victim to the fog of early grief. Things that I know were said or done, but just can’t recall. I often fear that they are lost forever. But there are also things that I remember clearly, despite the fog.
One memory that somehow survived the black hole of grief is the almost immediate and overwhelming need to do something in her honor to make this crazy unfair world slightly better.
I remember saying to anyone who would listen that I had to do something for her and because of her.
I remember having no idea what that would look like at the time. And I’m pretty sure that the quick onset of that desire was born of fear. Fear that she would be forgotten. Fear that I wouldn’t have the help I needed. Fear that others were going through the same thing with even less support and resources that I had. Fear. It’s a powerful thing. Powerful enough to force intrusive thoughts of helping others into my earliest days of grief. And though less fear-based (usually), those thoughts are still there. And I have come into some wonderful opportunities to help others and I have been able to do some really cool things. But it’s not enough. I have ideas and hopes and visions for supporting parents in grief. And now it’s not all fear. It’s love too. Fear and love, I suppose.
It’s something that I think a lot of us experience. Still Standing was born of a similar drive. Along with countless other organizations that are supporting parents just like me, like us, in a host of brilliant ways.
Recently I sat down to brainstorm some ideas of my own and I was hit with a solidly humbling realization.
I am surrounded by grieving parents every day.
Not just in my head as I brainstorm ideas to help. Not just in my amazing circle of other loss parents. Not just in my volunteer work. But in my everyday life.
There is the grieving mom in line behind me at the grocery store, going through the motions for her living children. There are women in my office who are counting the days to the anniversary of their miscarriage, even 20 years later. There are fathers drowning in sadness and stress as they cut me off on their way to work. There are grandparents missing a batter at the t-ball game. And there’s the old high school buddy trying to find a way to celebrate the birth of her first son, with her second and only living son. There are broken people everywhere. Hurting people. Grieving people. The exact ones that I was thinking about only days after burying my daughter. They are everywhere. Here. Now.
I’m excited to be working on ideas for the loss community. And I’m grateful to be plugged into such a wonderful community. I don’t know where I would be without the support I have.
But…I cannot ignore the simple truth behind my recent realization. We can all do more. Right where we are. People need support. They need empathy and tolerance and grace. They need a smile when they’re being difficult. A conversation when they are lonely. They need simple things. All the time.
So I don’t need a reason to reach out. I don’t need a purpose to my support aside from well, support. And I am well qualified to be kind and loving to hurting people. And that is something that I can do. Here and now.
What can you do?