Thursday, May 5, 2016

Empathy, Loss, and the Social Contract

So, I get it, it's part of the human condition we must say something in times of great loss. It was one of my least favorite parts of dealing with losing Jake. The well meant, banal platitudes. Saying something, while essentially saying nothing.

Fortunately no one to my memory trotted out my least favorite of these "I know how you feel." Really, no, you don't... The only people, I would've accepted that from, my parents, said, we understand losing a child, but not at the level you guys do. Taking nothing away from their grief at the loss of their eldest child, my brother survived 40 hours before he passed. Jacob was a year and half. 

Grief, the process of accepting, understanding, and coming to terms with the loss of someone we love, is a unique, and individual journey. I know how I feel/felt about the loss of my grandmother and grandfather. Losing them was like losing two of the brightest stars in my sky. Compass points I could always turn to on my journey, if I felt I was getting lost. However, I can't presume I understood that loss to the same level as my mother and her siblings did. It's different, it just is, the nature of the relationship colors everything, including how you grieve. 

No one who comes into my life now will understand the dynamic of my grief over Jacob. And even Traci's grief, is different than my own. We are getting closer and closer to this divorce being fully realized and finalized, but I can't imagine no matter where life takes us as we travel separate roads for the first time in half our lives, that we won't check in with each other and probably share some tears every August and February. 

And even people offering advice and well meaning platitudes about the divorce don't understand either. Because while every divorce is generally the same, the relationships being separated by it are different. Traci and I spent the bulk of our married life getting by, waiting for the next crisis, and alternately leaning on/needing each other and hating/blaming each other for the problems we each saw. We never learned to communicate effectively, to work on what pulled us together in the first place, and to attack the problems while they were small chips, before they were major cracks.

That being said, I've seen that woman carry me on her back walking through Hell, laughing at the devil the whole way...She has iron in her veins. But she is also soft as butter on the Fourth of July. In our 16 years together, she taught me strength. I am forever indebted to her for that.

I know as I begin to let go of all these things I cling to, out of familiarity I will eventually come out the other side, brighter, stronger, more fully realized. I'm finding outlets for the grief, using it to begin growing, to begin rebuilding.

So be patient with me, share those well meant words of encouragement about how it'll get better, I'll be ok...but understand if I grumble about it.

Who knows, I may yet grow enough to not refer to the last year and a half as The Darkest Timeline. Maybe I'll grow, change, adapt, and look back at this time, and see all the points of light I can't/don't/won't see and I'll notice them, realizing how well lit this road really is.

Meanwhile the only way out is through, right, so I shuffle on, taking the steps, moving forward, only occasionally backward.