Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I am so scared

I can tell you today. Aya's body has been found, she will be buried on Friday. No sign of Uzi, no sign of Uzi yet, but it's all coming to an end, it's all coming to an end now.

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Listen, all of you, if you are reading this and know a person who has lost someone, it's very likely you will not know what to tell them. It's likely you will think "what's the point, there's nothing I can say that will make a difference". True, nothing you can say will make it go away but it's not true that you are not helping. It helps to know people are thinking about you and them, it helps to hear words as banal as "I am so sorry", it doesn't do anything for the existence of pain itself but it does smudge its contours for a nanosecond. So don't stay hidden, don't feel inadequate, there is no etiquette in death and grief, you will never find the right words because they do not exist, they couldn’t possibly, but you may ease someone’s pain for a while and at this point really, it’s all we can hope for, to have it not so terrible for a few moments. You don’t even have to talk, just give them a hug, squeeze their hand, offer to baby-sit the kids, walk their dogs, polish their shoes for the funeral, whatever it may be. It helps knowing we are not alone even as we choose to isolate ourselves.

Please, don’t even think of saying things like “He’s in a much better place now”, “He’s with God now”, “It was God’s will” or anything like that unless the people who mourn them are saying it also, we’ll just want to badly hurt you, we want him with us, God doesn’t enter the equation, God is, life happens, death does as well, and especially when they are this young how is it better that they are dead? How is that any comfort to us? Turn your empathy on.

Also, do not be afraid to talk about those who died, one of our deepest long-term fears is that they will be forgotten and people always fear they will cause more pain by bringing their names up. In time, we will need to be able to talk about them, we will need to be able to relive our moments with them, it is good to have them remembered and cherished, it is good to have people willing to do it with us. If the person doesn't want to talk about it at that moment, fine, but don't not do it for fear of hurting them more, death already took care of the ultimate violation, we will have to live the rest of our lives without them, chances are you cannot do much more harm.

Finally, grief has its own timing, don't ever tell anyone "it's been X months/years, you should be over it by now" because frankly, what do you know? if you're one of the lucky ones, nothing at all.

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14 Comments:

At 19/1/05 15:38, Anonymous Anonymous said...

J - no words come to me that are sufficient to soothe your soul. I'm so very sad to hear about Aya.

Her friends and family certainly must have a bittersweet sense of it all.

Wish I could be there to sit quietly in a room with you & let you know that I am there when you need someone. But instead, I'll simply say - I'm here if you need me.

xoxo Boulder

 
At 19/1/05 16:18, Blogger Ana said...

I'm so sorry J. I can imagine how scared you must be and I wish I could do something.

 
At 19/1/05 19:37, Blogger paulmonster said...

My Grandpa is still alive because I can still hear his voice, in my memories, so very clearly and vividly. I can still hear his inane guitar polkas and the roll of his laughter, and sometimes I catch unconcious mannerisms inherited by my father and my uncles, or even myself. All the Susi males tilt our heads or thrust our hands in our pockets the same way, and we talk the same babytalk to the grandkids.

After I helped Grandpa to die, the dreams were bad for a time, but they got better. There's a gaping Grandpa-shaped hole in the family and that doesn't get better, it just is, and we draw comfort from our teeming numbers and our living memories and dreams.

Please keep writing, Lioness. The only way anyone gets through is by holding on to everyone else.

 
At 19/1/05 20:03, Blogger brooksba said...

Johnny,

I am so sorry. I know this has to be hard. Comfort is hard to find at times like these and I wish I could offer you enough to make it not hurt. I will be here for you. If there is anything I can do, please let me know.

Hugs,

Beth

 
At 19/1/05 21:50, Blogger Scully said...

Lioness:

I am so sorry for your loss. This is horrible.

And everything you've written is everything I've read about how to deal with death.

My biggest pet peeve is when people say God had anything to do with it. Time and unforeseen occurrence befall us all and I do not believe that God sits in heaven and throws these disasters at mankind.

It's all just so sad. I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm thinking of you.

 
At 19/1/05 21:57, Blogger JoeinVegas said...

Darn blogger. Sorry, I tried to get here earlier.

Sorry I am so far away - I think my arms can almost reach, here, have a big hug. Squeeze tighter.

 
At 20/1/05 05:23, Blogger Lord Chimmy said...

There are those few moments in our lives where everything gets turned upside-down and remembering happy things causes us to be unhappy. Even the best spoken words are ALWAYS inadequate in these situations. That being said, there is a line from a poem that goes, “Our story is of moments when even slow motion moved too fast for the shutter of the camera…” Your words about Uzi make me think of that line. I am sorry for what you are going though…

 
At 20/1/05 16:51, Blogger CarpeDM said...

Oh, Johnny, I am so sorry. I wish I was there to give you a hug and walk the dog for you. Uzi will never be forgotten because you have made it so that I can imagine his smile and laugh at what he has said and cry because I wish he was there with you.

I'm here for you. Granted it's many, many miles away but I am here. Love you.

D

 
At 20/1/05 18:20, Blogger Dale said...

After my sister's death, at age twenty, we got many visits and condolences and they meant a lot to us. One of the first, and the one that meant maybe the most, was the visit of an aged couple, longtime friends of the family, well into their seventies. We invited them in and they came and sat with us, not even trying to speak. None of us said a word. They hadn't come to cheer us up or comfort us. They'd just come to grieve with us. We sat together in silence for half an hour or so, and then they quietly took their leave.

I guess the blog-comment equivalent is to just say, "I'm so sorry."

 
At 21/1/05 08:30, Blogger Serialangel said...

I have no words, no quotes or experiences because no one important has ever died. But I'll I do best, a crappy virtual hug...

*HUGS**HUGS*

Let the world spin and your grief mature.

 
At 21/1/05 16:00, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sorry, my friend. Just so sorry.

Wishing you peace and strength.

 
At 21/1/05 19:26, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry my friend.

Thinking of you.

Emily

 
At 21/1/05 23:56, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So true, all of what you've written here about how to really be there for someone who is grieving. I'd like to add just one more thing: Don't stop coming around or calling once the funeral is over. This is the time when you are needed most; when the world seems so quiet and lonely. Unfortunately, I learned this when my brother was killed five years ago.

I'm so very sorry, my friend. If you ever want to talk, I'm just an email away.

Danae/Hardscrabble

 
At 23/1/05 09:12, Blogger Dahlia said...

I am so very sorry for the loss of your dear friend Aya. Keep her spirit alive in the best way you know. Grief in the aftermath of tragedy is heartwrenching... give yourself as much time as you need.
Sending you love and hugs,
Dahlia

 

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