Recently, a “friend” expressed concern for my sharing on social media about Eliot, my trauma, grief, and the array of emotions that have come in the aftermath.
I have been transparent about the struggles that have come along. Some expected, others unexpected.
This “friend” was concerned about how people perceived my husband and I. Her intentions may have been right; I don’t know.
It felt like anything but good intentions, though. I’ve mulled about it for a few weeks.
First, it made me incredibly self-conscious. Perhaps people DO perceive us as crybabies (no pun intended) who can’t get over it. My anxiety-riddled brain went into a free-falling frenzy.
It is not the thoughts of what other people think of me. It is the thoughts that this traumatic, awful, life stopping, soul-crushing thing DID happen.
I lost my son. He did not live (but he did).
And the absolute only way anyone will ever remember him is if I tell them.
My “friend” knew the exact right button to push.
I went through all the ins and outs of this. What if I am stuck in this grief, and I am genuinely not moving on?
Because I’m not moving on, I’m on the fast track to becoming an old lady with a lot of cats that I can’t take care of, and then a few of them die, and I don’t notice?
What if I’m not moving on and instead, moving towards having no friends at all because no one wants to hear about it?
What if my marriage is going to wither and die too because I am stuck?
I could go on because my anxiety brain is really like Grand Canyon on steroids, but I won’t. That part, honestly, nobody wants to hear (including me for the 47th time).
Then, as often happens for me, I got angry. Not like a little huffy because the car in front of you is taking too long to turn. Like literally smash an old TV with a sledgehammer while screaming, angry.
Who are you to put me on a timeline for mourning my child?
Who the hell are you to be my “friend” and then pass such judgment instead of trying to come alongside me?
Seriously, who are YOU?
All that leads me to this: can you imagine if we treated joy the same way we treat grief?
You take a bottle of semi-nice $12 wine (because really who is spending more than that on the wine they don’t get to drink?) to your friend’s housewarming party and casually say over the cheese dip;
“Gee, Susan, this is pathetic. Sure, you have a nice house, but you bought the damn thing six months ago, can you move on already?”
Begrudgingly picking out a gift for a birthday party and sitting there with Costco cake in your mouth, “I can’t believe you’re still celebrating little Johnny’s birthday again. It’s been five freaking years already. We’ve all moved on. Get over it!”
It’s absurd. Seriously, think about how absurd that sounds?
We never tell people in joyful moments of their life to move on, get over it, get help, write in a diary, see a therapist, or even stop talking about it.
Joy and happiness are easy emotions.
Grief is absolutely anything but easy – you can know all the pretty steps. You can understand what stage you’re in. Pulled up a chair, propped your feet up, settled your behind right into that comfy spot – only to have the chair flipped over from the bottom up.
Before you know it, you’re right back at the beginning instead of comfortably rooted in stage four.
My “friend” knew exactly what button to push.
And while she’s firmly in my “no friends list” now, I’m grateful she did.