Not everyone is privy to the world of grief. I’m glad for you if you aren’t. The grief world sucks a crap ton. I didn’t know how lonely grief was until I did know. I knew exactly. I might be grieving for a different reason than you are. I may have no idea what it’s like to have a child die or have a miscarriage or lose a parent or whatever. But to be fair, you also have no idea what it’s like to walk away from a child and leave them at an orphanage for forever. Like, physically walk away from them. We only know our own experiences. We only know what we know. We could sit around and compare our grief. We could sit around and judge why and how someone else is grieving. I have done that, absolutely. I’m tired of doing that, though. That feels like a complete waste of time to me. It also feels really counterproductive to the healing process.
Grief is grief. Loss is loss. It’s all a freaking nightmare.
A few weeks after I got home from Uganda, I reached out to a friend who has a similar story and asked, “How do you find closure in situations like these or does it just haunt you forever?” I was basically asking, “Will I ever function properly in society again or has this eternally messed me up for good?” She was so kind. She basically told me that it will get better. You won’t move on. You won’t forget. You will just be different. You will find a new normal. You will figure out a new way to live here and have a piece of your heart missing. You will find a way to function and live and remember. It will get better. YOU will get better.
She was right. It does get better. You do get better.
You will be able to go to a baby shower again. I didn’t for a very long time. All I will say about that first one you feel ready to go to: know where the bathroom is and go there when you need to breathe or cry or drink out of that flask you brought with you. (OMG, mom and dad I’M KIDDING. I don’t even know what a flask is.)
You will survive a social outing and it won’t feel like surviving. You will one day hang out with people and it will be genuinely fun again. You won’t have to force yourself to go and you won’t have to force yourself to stay. And then one day you will plan a social outing all by yourself and it will feel like a very big deal because it is. Slow. Clap. For. You.
You will go to a baby shower AND you will enjoy it. You may get in the car and cry about the fact that you enjoyed it but whatever. You will go and you will not want to murder everyone in the room. PROGRESS!
You will walk through the kid section of Target and not cry. The changing of seasons may also help, too. Seeing clothes people bought for that kid who will never wear them… ohhh heyyyy, fifth level of hell. Excuse me while I just lay down in the fetal position and cry.
You will engage in small talk with your friends and it won’t piss you off. All I wanted to do was talk about JT for a long long time. If I didn’t want to talk about him, I wanted to talk about heaven and Jesus and things of eternal significance. I was SO OFFENDED when people wanted to talk about TV shows and new restaurants. How can you care about crap like that at a time like this? How dare you!?
You will find comfort in people who don’t know anything about you. For a long time I was terrified to hang out with people who didn’t know me. What if they ask something and I have to say what happened? Or worse, what if they don’t ever ask anything and I never have to tell them? I desperately need those people who know, who will ask me questions, and let me talk about it. I have also found that having people who don’t know a thing are such a sweet little gift from above. Freedom to just feel normal again. Sweet goodness.
You will care about dumb things again. I didn’t think I would ever care about anything stupid ever again. A friend invited me to come watch The Bachelorette finale with her whenever that was. I went, but in my head I was thinking, “How can I care about a TV show when a piece of my heart is residing in another country? Just tell me how in the h*ll I’m supposed to do that? Please.” BUT THEN I CARED. I watched it and I kind of got into it and I rooted for the guy that played baseball and I was excited about it. It was good and weird and sad and good.
You will be able to sit with your friends while they talk about baby things and kids and parenting. The first time this happened, though? I drank a whole lot of alcohol. Straight up. I cried in the bathroom at the place we were at. And then I cried in the car on the way home. It was so sad and so hard and so terrible.
You will go to church and you will sing and you will not cry. I hated church for a good long while. I only went because Dustin said we had to and deep down I knew I needed to be there. I refused to participate at first. I just stood there, arms crossed, giving God the middle finger in my head. It felt so right at the time. Then when I wasn’t so angry, I just went and was so sad. I cannot tell you how pissed I was the first time we sang a song with the word, “orphan” in it. I literally gasped the first time it happened and wanted to die. I was so pissed at God and then at the worship singer for picking that song and then at EVERYONE for singing it. It was not until very recently I sang a song with that word in it and I didn’t even think about it. I was so angry at myself for doing it. But then I was really proud of myself. High five, self. You are getting better!
Grief is a terribly lonely place to be. But if it makes you feel any better today…It does get better. You will get better. I promise.