Validating my Truth

IMG_2226.JPGDuring the week, I was rushing down a busy street while on my lunch break from work, when I passed a former colleague.  He called out to me and we stopped to quickly catch up.  

I hadn't seen this man for around three years, since he moved to London for work.  As is often the way with old workmates, they plan such an integral role in your day-to-day, only to drift off into the outskirts of your Facebook friends network once life takes you in different directions. 

Thanks to Facebook, this man was aware that I'd lost Dan to depression a couple of years ago and while he'd sent his condolences at the time, we hadn't actually seen each other since. 
After five minutes or so of catching each other up on work-related news, he interrupted the conversation and said, 'Hey, I just wanted to say, I haven't seen you since Dan passed away but I am so very sorry for your loss.  He seemed like a wonderful man who truly made you happy and it's incredibly shitty that this happened to you both.'
It was as simple as that, and to him, probably felt like nothing more than good manners and genuine compassion but the fact that he took the time to mention Dan's death meant more than he would have guessed. Because sadly, it's very rare. 

In the past two-and-a-half years I've found not only are people reluctant to bring up the topic of my husband's passing in conversation, the fact that he died form suicide apparently makes it even the more taboo and uncomfortable.  I'm sure this unwillingness to speak about it is more out of feeling unsure of what to say or worrying that the wrong words will upset me.  In fact, I know this, because friends have admitted in the past that they've left him out of conversation in case it took me back to a sad place and 'reminded' me that he was dead (as if I had forgotten!).  

I understand that talking about grief and consoling a friend is it's a very rocky path and I sure as heck didn't know how to navigate it before I joined this club that none of us wanted to be in.  So I get it.  And I no longer take it personally.  However when this work friend took that time to acknowledge my loss, he validated it.  

He gave me a permission to let my guard down and live my truth.  To many, this wouldn't have seemed like a very big deal, but to a widowed person, I was very grateful he had the courage to take the conversation to a personal and potentially uncomfortable place.

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  • commented 2016-02-12 13:26:56 -0800
    Rebecca you touch upon a subject that many of us feel yet don’t think about it so readily and that is how seldom we hear a condolence as time passes. Oh it passes for sure and most friends and family have moved on but we’re still here aren’t we? It’s almost as if we had to go to a mirror, look ourselves in the eye and say “I am so sorry” for we kind of need that once in awhile from someone who knew our lovers. Funny how as the years go by we can feel even more alone now than at the beginning of our journey.
  • commented 2016-02-08 21:11:43 -0800
    I’m so glad you connected with your sensitive, wise colleague. I’ve been experiencing the same thing. Very few people, including close friends, say Brian’s name unless I mention it first, and even then, lots of people seem uncomfortable. Sigh… It’s not like I’m going to forget he died. HELLO!! He will always be important and I will always find comfort in talking to others about him – as you will with Dan.
  • commented 2016-02-07 11:21:54 -0800
    Rebecca this is so true. I remember years and years ago, an acquaintance of mine lost her husband in an accident at a very early age. I ran into her and I just talked about everything except the elephant in the room. I thought I was doing the right thing by not making her feel uncomfortable or sad. It wasn’t until years later when my mother in law died that I realized how comforting the condolences are. That acquaintance and I have renewed our acquaintanceship through Facebook and I had an opportunity to apologize for not mentioning her husband and his death and my condolences. She is a lovely person and very graciously accepted my apology. My husband died a year and a half ago and like you said, we don’t hear the condolences any more. A few months ago, a friend and I got together for coffee for the first time since my husband’s funeral. She started talking about the funeral and how much she enjoyed hearing about this man – the memories he created for our children, his wonderful sense of humour, how interesting he was – and she said she was so sorry she never got to meet him. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated her words. I read somewhere that after the first year, the condolences stop but the grief doesn’t. So true and just something we members of this wretched club have to accept. Thank you for sharing. You are such an inspiration to all of us that follow your journey.