I spent hours online when Matt first died. Anyone who has been plunged into grief knows this: the computer becomes your companion, the vehicle of your search. Click after click, searching for something to help, to find someone who sounds like you. Hour after hour, I found no one. Platitudes, emoticons. Casual acquaintances suddenly wanting to be my closest friends. Visceral slaps from the mindfulness folks telling me I must have had something to learn: clearly I created this reality. The nightmare of sudden death turned even more bizarre.
It took months. I stretched and connected in desperate ways, trying things I never would have tried in my Before. I joined groups. Yes. Groups. I tried email match programs. I searched relentlessly, read and discarded books. I stitched together a small tribe. And oh, we were so hard to find: “Gretel’s crumbs through the forest of grief,” to quote the beautiful Dr. J. I still found myself alone in grief most times, learning to avoid anyone who spouted platitudes. But my people, the people I found, they did, in fact, save me. When you find the ones who resonate with you, when you find your true reflection, something deep inside you eases, just a bit. Something settles down, grounds you.
I don’t want it to be so hard to find anymore. I don’t want a sane and grounded response to grief to be unique and unusual. I don’t want any more people like me, searching and not finding, searching and feeling more alone. We are statistically small in number, but we are here, and we deserve the nourishment of community and good words. In our lives Before, we sought out the core of things, the underneath of things. Every minute of every day, someone new joins us here. I do not want them searching. I do not want them to feel like they are alone in the pain that has erupted in their lives. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m writing. I will do whatever I can to be visible. To be a place of connection and nourishing words.
There is a way to come to grief, to be in grief, without changing it, without making it less than or smaller than it is. There is a way to stay present to what is real and true. And that way is not made by emoticons and platitudes. It is not made by dumbing yourself down to fit the current and established monikers of grief. The way is made by staying true to yourself, by seeking shelter in the love you knew, by finding those who walk this path, as best they can, beside you.
If you’re here, I’m sorry. And thank you.