Thursday, June 16, 2016

An Open Letter to My Friends and Family About Grief

Dear friends and family,

I realize the past few years I have been different. I've been M.I.A. in a lot of peoples' lives. I've stopped calling people, and stopped showing up. I've ditched things at the last minute. I've ignored calls, I've taken days to respond to text messages. I've been negative and selfish and I've been a pain to be around a lot of the time.

Grief kicked my ass. Plain and simple. I fell apart. I wallowed. I became a bump on a log watching endless hours of television. My anxiety skyrocketed, and I spent the bulk of the past 3 years nursing it when I wasn't nursing my broken heart, or my constant fatigue, or a myriad of other things that have resulted from my mom's cancer death.

I learned some very important things during my grief. People will surprise you. The ones you think will be the best for you during your worst times, often won't be. I found solace in people I never expected. I am not mad about this, although I was at the time. I wasn't even really mad about that back then, I was just mad. I was mad about everything. I was angry at life. I was angry because nothing I did could stop what was coming. I was angry because I hurt so badly. People would try, from the goodness of their hearts, to be there for me, but there was a tiny handful of people I felt safe to be in my pain around, and it was hard to acknowledge that a lot of the time, it was people I wasn't close to at all.

I received messages from acquaintances that were exactly what I needed to hear. I talked to an old man at Home Depot for ten minutes about cancer one day, and it was more real and perfect than almost anyone I talked to during the entire duration of my mom's cancer and death. My sister in law that I hardly knew provided me with some of the most perfect conversations for my situation. Her understanding was a gift to my life. People who knew me better than most struggled to say the right thing, or avoided me altogether because they had no idea how to help or what to say. I want you to know I'm not mad about that. Everything I read about grief said it's so common for that to happen.

I love all of you, and I'm sorry I forgot about you. I'm sorry I disappeared into my complicated, awful grief. I'm so sorry I neglected you, or avoided you. I didn't mean to. I just couldn't handle being around people. It hurt. Every interaction hurt, and little by little, as I healed, I got used to the habits I'd formed of being alone. My anxiety is the last part to heal, and it's slowly winding down, but it burdened me so badly, I just felt better at home with my husband. He understood me and was a godsend in how he handled me.

I would like to resume our friendships that I left behind. I would like to resume being an active part of my family. I can promise you it will be weird at first. I am still a new version of me, I'm different. I'm also one who very much is used to being a loner now after doing this for three years. I believe it also has something to do with coming to terms with my best friend being dead. And how to cope with the big empty hole her death left in my life. It's been two years since her death, two and a half since I could call her for anything, and I still find myself crying when I have good news because I don't want to tell anyone if I haven't been able to tell her. It really leaves me spinning my wheels and feeling lost, so then I don't interact with anyone. I was not prepared for how hard it would be to share things with anyone when I couldn't share them with her first. I always knew my mom's death would impact my life, but I was not prepared for how giant the crater would be.

I love all of you, and I hope that you will forgive me for falling apart. I also hope you will be patient with me as I try, fail, and try again to be a social person. It's still quite uncomfortable for me, and I hope that this goes away eventually.

I love you all, hope you will forgive me and hope we can work on this together,


Join the conversation!

  1. Oh my goodness, it's like you're in my head right now. I lost both of my grandparents in April and I am just not a happy person right now. I've pushed people away. Ignored countless phone calls. Don't reply to text messages. It's hard to be the friend and companion you know you're capable of when you're hurting.

  2. Beautifully said. I love your honesty.


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