Last year was brutal for many of us. Someone we care about died, or we had to muddle through another year, peppered with dates of reminders: the “companions” of reminders and memories linking us not only the the beautiful, but also to the painful, and what MIGHT have been. We’ve just come out of a season that centers around thankfulness and giving, and it’s a weird place to be when we are in the midst of such sadness. What are we supposed to do; just wrap our grief up in a nice package with a bow and put it aside for the time being? Oh, if only we could.
Well intentioned friends and family tell us to stop thinking about what we’ve lost, and focus on what we have. That’s just insensitive and downright rude. I had a longtime friend tell me that it was selfish to stay sad for so long, and that my son wouldn’t want me to cry so much. It took all my might to not scream at her. I had to physically bite my tongue for a solid half minute till I regained my composure. I just ignored her and moved on to another subject. Some people will never understand.
It is entirely possible to be thankful for what we have and mourn our loss at the same time. They aren’t opposites; they’re also companions. I have a visual of them—grief and thankfulness—holding hands, looking at each other, very comfortable with one another’s company as true companions. One doesn’t crowd the other out of the scene, but allows her to feel and shine and be what she is supposed to be. How can we possibly live a genuine, meaningful life if we aren’t honest with ourselves about these basic emotions? May we all strive to heal through this journey of love and loss, and be compassionate with and pray for others who have no clue.
Whitney Hanson is a young poet who shares some insightful truths about grief on this Instagram post. If you like what she says, give her a follow!