I tend to be a very blunt person. I don't think this makes me rude, I just don't skirt around anything. Here in Minnesota there is supposed to be this thing called "Minnesota Nice." I won't say that it doesn't exist, but I will say that I view it a little bit more as "Minnesota Passive Aggressive." I am not saying I like conflict, but I would prefer to just deal with something immediately versus trying to hint at it. From my experience hinting at what you want to say doesn't benefit you or the person speaking to you. I couldn't count the times I have been told "You know, I didn't like you when I first met you." I might take a little getting used to.
Most people I meet are not like me. They don't say what they think. or what they mean. Most people respond by trying to please someone else, or appease their listener. So many people don't let themselves be honest, open, real. Most people don't want anyone to see their weakness, or that the pretty picture they paint for the world isn't as pretty in real life. I think one of the reasons so many people have a hard time being honest because they feel alone in their struggle. They don't want anyone to think less of them, they want to appear strong, or they are afraid to be vulnerable.
One of the greatest struggles in my grief journey is how challenging it can be for others to sit in the muck of my grief. Grief makes people uncomfortable. People have this idea that there is a grieving period, and when that time is past that you should be all healed. Time heals all wounds right? No, grief is not like that. I am not saying you cannot heal, or that as time passes your pain might not become more bearable. I just don't believe that there is a grieving "period." I believe that in one way or another I will always be a grieving widow. I will grieve the future we would have had, I will grieve the moments (big and small) that my children will miss out on, I will grieve the absence of a physical partner. I trust and believe that God will bring me joy, but I will not skirt around the fact that I am in pain. I want to be an example of vulnerability, an example of someone who is real, someone who is raw, someone who is honest. I don't ever want a grieving widow to look around her and feel like everyone else is grieving so much "better" than she is. What I want her to know is this: Its okay if you can't get up off the floor, its okay if you can't hold back your tears at work, its okay if your appetite hasn't returned, its okay if you still haven't sorted through his belongings, its okay to still long to hear his voice or you miss the smell of his skin. It is okay to be in pain, being in pain does not mean that you are not strong, or that you are not going to make it, or that you are not able to live this life you have been handed. You do not need to veil your grief in order to make someone else more comfortable. You do not need to apologize or justify your grief.
The request I have of all of you, if you know me, or if you know anyone for that matter who struggles. The struggle does not need to be unique to grief. If you ask them how they have been, please be ready for a real answer. Request honesty, prepare your heart and your mind to listen with a goal of understanding, search for compassion in your soul and respond with thoughtful and genuine words. If I am honest I get asked this question every day, "how are you?" It is a common greeting, and honestly I wish it would disappear. Most people do not want to know the answer, they want the obligatory response of "fine" and they want to move on. If you don't want to hear the real answer, do not ask the question! Please, choose a different greeting. My favorite right now is just "Hi."
Today a good friend of mine texted me and asked "How have you been lately?" With her, I tell the truth. I responded and we texted back and forth a bit. As she asked more questions I was able to respond with this: "I wake up everyday and most days I don't have to re-realize that he is gone. Some days are worse than others. Sometimes when I think about years from now I still forget that he isn't coming back and won't be by my side. But I am doing it, everyday I do what I need to do, and some days I even do a little more than just what needs to be done." She took in my response, she sat in my muck, she didn't abandon ship. But most people, they are not like that. Most people are uncomfortable in the muck. Please for the sake of those around you, learn how to be uncomfortable in the muck. No matter what, someday it will be you in the muck, and I pray that you aren't alone. I pray that you have people join you, people to keep you company and maybe wipe your face off a bit.