August 26th, 2022
Yesterday afternoon, I encountered a family of three who seemed overwhelmed.
I asked how they were and they told me, understandably, that they had been better.
I looked at the documents and photos spread across the table.
They had to plan a funeral over lunch.
I told them I understood.
There continued to be the kind of tension that exists when you feel like you’re dealing with something that no one else could possibly comprehend, until one of the women turned to me and asked:
“When’s the last time you had to write an obituary?”
“Last year,” I said, matter-of-factly.
And that tension dissolved.
Suddenly, they weren’t grieving alone; they were grieving with a friend. I knew they felt less alone, and I felt less alone being with them.
This is why I’m always telling you to talk about the hard stuff.
Talking about the hard stuff, like planning a funeral while eating lunch, while continuing to spin on this planet like nothing is different but everything has changed, opens the line between isolated islands of grief and pain.
We can check on each other, we can be there for one another, we can understand.
We can make unbearable moments of our lives sublime with connection.
I’m glad I got to be the person they ran into yesterday, not because I feel like I did something for them, but because, selfishly, they comforted me.
I never told them who I lost, or why, because it never came up, and it didn’t matter.
They understood. I knew that. And that was the only thing that mattered.