I heard terrible news a few weeks ago.
Awful, devastating, heart-breaking… the worst kind of news. But someone else’s news. My pain was my heart breaking for a friend. It was the projection of how profoundly this will affect people. And it was a realization of how my own life, my children’s lives, my husband’s life and my parents’ lives could change in an instant.
And also a realization of how I still to this day don’t love as much as I want to.
I felt helpless. There are no casseroles that can fix something like that. There are not enough hugs in the universe to make it all better. It just hurts. It will change people forever. I coach adults trying to sort through the hardships of their childhood. I know that things just happen. But. They have a long-term effect on who we become.
That almost makes it harder. To hear news like that.
There is nothing you can do but love.
You know someone you care so much about will never be the same. All you can do is love through it no matter what that will look like. Love from afar. Love up close. Don’t forget to love long after the outsiders have moved on and the insiders still suffer.
We want to do something. We want to act. We want to soothe ourselves by being able to help. That’s a totally normal reaction. I felt that.
I have never come close to touching loss like that. Because of that, a little part of me wants to just give tons of space. And space is super important. For sure. But when the first wave and maybe even the second wave subsides, using that as an excuse is not okay.
Know that you can never understand, but stay anyway. Be there. Do not be distant because you don’t know how to show up. In fact, ask how you can show up. I learned this from another friend suffering a trauma. Don’t ask, “How are you doing?” Don’t say anything. Just show up and hug. I learned from her to be silent and listen. Your words cannot comfort as much as your solid quiet love can sometimes.
And guess what else I did the day I heard the news? I got my hair done. On most days, I consider this a necessity. I have a LOT of grey hair. That day it seemed so stupid and vain and completely insignificant. So much of what I did seemed meaningless on that day.
Thank goodness the work I do feels purposeful. Thankfully, it was a course-building day and not a client day. That would have been HARD. My energy was way too wrapped up in it. Work actually felt good that day. It felt like I was contributing something valuable, like I had a way to help all of the people who were the insiders of the bad news and have had to survive their trauma but now want to heal.
I have never been so sad and joyful at the same time.
My actions may not directly help my friend, but I know they help others healing from the same experiences.
This blog is a hot mess. I don’t know what I have to contribute other than this…
- Give space and love.
- Show up and love.
- Allow yourself to feel even if it isn’t yours.
- Do work that feels meaningful.
I love you all so freaking much. Kisses and hugs.