I made the mistake of telling someone who promptly said, "Jerri, you need to get on meds and go to a counselor. Three days of crying is not normal."
I agree. In HER world where her husband who is wonderful comes home from work, her mom lives close enough to drop by for dinner, she is successful in her career, and she thinks she has control of time it would be extremely abnormal for her to cry for three days. Anyone who has a life like hers and cries a lot would be concerning.
However, I wasn't living her life.
I was living a life that included children grieving their dad with the anger, sadness, and insomnia that includes, a family that had disintegrated, the attempt to figure out what was real in 19 years of marriage, being alone ALL THE TIME, working through an estate, and a whole slew of other things. AND I was trying to do it by myself because I was infinitely tired of the suggestion of counseling and drugs to make me happy enough for public acceptance.
In MY world, grief and all that it entails was normal. Crying on any given day over any given thing was normal. However, it did not fit into HER world, and she didn't take time to understand mine.
She never asked what made me sad. She never asked how she could help. She never offered to listen. Instead, she demanded I do whatever it took to fit back into her world and her comfort zone.
What she did not seem to realize is I had no way to fit into her comfort zone because I no longer lived in her world.
Imagine if life as you knew it were gone forever. Imagine if your routine, the key people in your life, the way you lived, the security you had, even the idea you actually controlled what would happen tomorrow or later today were gone. Imagine if your reality...was a vague memory covered in the dust of major devestation.
Imagine this with me:
...no more Lego building with Daddy
...no more father/daughter dances or dates
...the texts/emails/calls never coming again
...imagine the inside jokes...that only belong to you now
...dinner coming and the empty chair that won't be filled when Daddy gets home from his business trip
...no more date nights
...8:00 o'clock coming EVERY SINGLE NIGHT...and you watch your favorite shows...alone
Need I go on?
Insert your own imaginations. Whether it be a spouse, a child, a parent, a sibling, a best friend...the person(s) who makes your lifescape what it is.
Imagine taking that person out of the lifescape, what is left untouched?
Now imagine people expecting you to act as though nothing has really changed.
Welcome to reality.
Do you think you would be happy? Do you think you could face each day with a smile? Do you really think you could walk in a closet where your spouse's clothes used to hang or down the hall where your child's laughter used to come through the door...and be "normal"?
Or do you think you might be angry? You might be confused? You might have questions? You might just want to go to bed and not get up? That particular songs, clothing, or days would send you tumbling into the reality that nothing can ever be "normal" again?
How do you think you would feel if someone told you not to feel that way?
How do you think you would feel if someone told you not to cry, to get over it, move on, or focus on what you have? How do you think you would feel if someone suggested the children that are still living should make you feel less loss about the one who has died? How would you feel if someone quoted scripture about not having a right to be angry, not having the right to ask questions, not having a right to be sad?
What if you had the flu and someone told you the Bible says to be joyful in all trials because trials produce all those good things, therefore, you should be joyful you have the flu? Or what if you are to give thanks in all things, so you should give thanks for being worthy to have the flu? What if someone told you to not whine about the aches or fever or vomiting that makes every muscle in your body hurt? What if they told you to get out of bed and act like all was fine because really, this is so inconvenient for everyone else? Would you think they really understood what it meant to have the flu? Would it cross your mind that if you sneezed their direction, a small case of the flu might help them understand YOUR reality?
Or would you want them to understand your misery, understand the pain, understand that in the midst of aching all over physically and mentally you feel like it is never going to get better? Would you want them to understand that you hate that this has happened to you and you might be angry or confused by how intense the suffering is?
Would you possibly just want someone to understand?
Would you want someoen to ask how you are? What you need? How they could help?
Would you want them to reply without judgment of the accuracy of your feelings, thoughts, or desires? Would you want them to simply accept your answer without tleling you how correct or appropriate for the situation it was or how you compared to other who have had a cold?
Would you want them to simply accept you as you were for that moment knowing if given time and the right care you will heal?
Here is the reality check:
Flu reality is in a whole other league from normal, everyday annoyances reality.
Loss and grief reality is a whole other world.
It is wholly unrealistic to expect people living in those worlds to act as though they were in yours.
If you want to have a relationship or want to support them,
you have to accept them where they are, as they are.
The goal is not to help them find their way back to your reality because they can't.
It will never happen.
The goal is to help them through the grief so they can build life in theirs.