The people before me

When I am in a new situation I don’t know much about, my default mode is research. I dive into books, articles, anything I can get my hands on to learn more. And when possible, I love to learn from people who have been through the same or similar situations.

One person  who had a death in her immediate family told me that people stopped asking how she was doing after six months. She didn’t know if they were tired of asking, or if they thought she should be further along in her grief by that point. She wished people still asked how she was doing with missing her loved ones.

Another friend described her experience following her Mom’s death. The people she thought would be there for her, weren’t. And the people she least expected showed up out of nowhere and were amazing, present and helpful.

Others talked about shifts in family dynamics after a death in their family that were truly heartbreaking.

In a weird way, I’m grateful for the people who went before me in grief. It sounds terrible to say that, because I would rather they never had to go through the loss and I wish their loved ones were still here. I guess what I’m actually grateful for is that they were willing to share with me what their experience was like. To give me a glimpse of what I might find in my own grief.

Many people sent cards after Justin died and I have read and saved every. single. one. There was a card with a handwritten letter inside that I can’t stop thinking about, even nine months later. A friend shared about what she noticed and appreciated in Justin’s life through reading his CaringBridge for almost two years (she had never met him). She also talked about things she learned in the three years since her granddaughter died. When she talked about her grief, I treasured each word, because I knew I was hearing from someone who had suffered a deep loss and was still working through it.

One thing in my friend’s letter stood out. She wrote that she was sure Justin and her granddaughter had already met in heaven. She said maybe Justin had already given her granddaughter a motorcycle ride. It was such a simple sentence, but I haven’t been able to get the idea out of my head. And I don’t want to.

I can picture Justin in my mind, laughing and racing down the streets in heaven, maybe even with a couple kids in tow.

It’s hope found in small things like this, that help redeem a bit of the hurt in loss.

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