Being openly honest with my feelings is hard. It’s hard because I believe it’s human nature to want to appear better, smarter, kinder, and funnier, more healed, more faithful and more gracious than I actually am. So when I expose my less than perfect self, it feels scary because it makes me feel vulnerable to judgment. But, I promised I’d keep it real with you, and so I will, even though it’s uncomfortable and isn’t going to make me sound very awesome.
When my husband was sick, so many people rallied around us. Friends, family, our church, our neighbors, even strangers served us in so many loving and helpful ways. It really got us through a very long and difficult time. Meals, prayers, financial support, yard work, home modification work – there were so many ways we were loved. This was true in the weeks after he died also. It was amazing to be so loved and supported.
But now, as the months have passed, people have moved on…because that’s life, right? Sometimes I wonder if maybe I handled my initial grief too well, because where has everyone gone? Some of this falls on me, because I don’t ask for help much anymore. Mostly because I’m tired of needing it, and I feel like people must be tired of giving it. I think this is a normal and natural progression after someone dies, and yet, sometimes it makes me feel disappointed, sad and alone.
I don’t need yard work help, financial support or meals anymore, that’s true. But when close friends and family quit checking in, touching base – I sometimes get a sad, almost resentful abandoned feeling. I know it isn’t fair of me and that it sounds selfish and immature. I should understand that life moves on and I’m not the center of everyone’s world, and yet I wasn’t ready for people to stop asking how I was doing. I guess I wasn’t prepared for people to stop wondering if I needed anything, or for the kind notes to end. I wasn’t ready for them to stop letting me know I was on their hearts and in their prayers. Maybe, like me, they are tired of hearing about it. I mean, aren’t I over it yet? Of course no one says that, but I start to wonder if that’s what everyone is thinking.
My expectations of family and friends are not reasonable. And when I feel neglected and sorry for myself, I understand I’m being selfish and not very extra grace-like. I don’t like that about myself – at all. It makes me feel like a childish hypocrite, because was I a rock star support system to my friends and family who have experienced loss? Nope. Because I didn’t know what I know now. I didn’t know there would be waves of grief. I didn’t know that people can be fine one week and need a lot of support the next. I didn’t understand that grief continues months and months after the funeral. I didn’t know.
I think I’m feeling all of this a little more lately because my Mom is leaving for the winter soon. After she leaves, I’m really on my own. Single parenting for “realz” now. There’s a lot of fear and anxiety about this. There are more kids than parents now and what am I going to do when they need to be in separate places at the same time? What am I going to do if I get sick?
I hope you’ll forgive me for my self-centered tantrum. Perhaps this is the anger stage of grief I’ve read about, but foolishly thought wouldn’t apply to me. I don’t know. I just pray you’ll understand that even I don’t really understand the complexity of the emotions I’m feeling lately. I promise this isn’t attention seeking, but rather all my insecurities exposed in hopes it will let other grievers feel less crazy, less alone. Maybe someone else is out there feeling forgotten or disappointed by friends, family, or even their church. Maybe if I show you all the things going on in my heart it will make someone else say, me too!
Ultimately, whether disappointment is warranted or not, it’s how I’m feeling. So what should I do with it? My plan is to circle back around to gratitude. I’m thankful for the family and friends who are still stopping by or reaching out for a coffee date. Even more importantly, I’m making an intentional effort to lean more into the One who understands every emotion, every complicated feeling, and every one of my insecurities. I’m going to rely more on the God who loves me even when I’m being selfish, unreasonable and a little wack-a-doo. I’m going to trust the One who desires my attention and my praise. And I’m going to fall into the arms of the Father who wants to comfort me and hold me through it all. His love and acceptance of me is real and I need to focus on that instead of fretting over who I haven’t seen in the seven months since the funeral.
If you’re feeling like everyone has moved on and left you behind, I get you. You’re not alone. I hope you’ll join me in an effort to lean into God too. I’m 100% sure it’s the best approach to getting through this.