Tears and Rage after Heartbreaking Loss
By Andrea Freedman
Sadly, just over three weeks ago the life of one of my closest friends in the world came to a shocking and tragic end.
Since then there have been so many times already where I usually would have called him or spent time with him. Life already seems just a little more boring without him in it. Some days it’s been an effort to even smile or be cordial, especially when my feelings fluctuate between wanting to cry or rip someone’s head off! I walk slowly, each step an effort. A gigantic piece of the puzzle that comprised my life has been viciously and cruelly torn away. I can’t be selfish though, as there are many other people besides me who are in stunned disbelief from this terrible loss.
As we were also neighbors, I still keep thinking I might bump into him like I used to do every day, but then I remember that he’s not here anymore. I don’t think I will ever get used to not having him around and I am not ready to even try. It makes me sad to think that one day we might adjust to not seeing him.
As my wise friend always told me, it’s healthier to be honest and let one’s feelings out rather than suppress them and let them make us ill. Although automatically saying “Good, thanks” when someone asks how we are doing is usually a standard response, I actually have been being honest since this tragedy happened and saying “I’m terrible, thanks, how about you?”
I’m angry at the world, even though it’s no one’s fault. I’m mad at some people who I knew got on my friend’s nerves when he was alive, I’m mad if someone doesn’t acknowledge his passing, yet I have no patience for those who simply want to know the “dirt” (how he died, the details of his funeral that they couldn’t be bothered to attend, etc.).
Speaking of funerals, in my opinion, attending a funeral for a close friend is not optional. I could hardly believe it when someone who knew full well how close I was with my friend actually asked me if I attended his service. I felt like saying “Of course I did, you idiot”, especially after he said “I don’t do well with funerals.” Who does? As far as I’m concerned, that is a copout. It amazes me how even when a person’s life is over, others are concerned with their own inconvenience or discomfort.
I find that since my friend’s passing, I only really want to talk to people who were also friends with him, as taking time to speak to others comes with the risk that I will have to listen to them say something stupid or irritating, intentionally or not, maybe even about my friend who died. That being said, there have been several of my friends, family and neighbors who have been very kind and sensitive toward me, and to those people I am grateful.
I could hardly believe it when an acquaintance that knew my friend had died looked at me bewildered and asked where I had been for the first week after it had happened. It was like she expected me to go back to normal as if nothing had happened. I suspect I will not be back to what people consider “normal” for quite some time.
Someone else I know motioned me over on the street to ask about my friend and then once he got the information he wanted, turned his head and basically dismissed me without another word. This same person looked surprised when a few days later he called me over again and I shook my head no and kept on walking.
I am amazed at the coldness of some people, like when they can’t bring themselves to say a word of condolence or just show a bit of sensitivity or compassion.
Let’s face it: I can deflect my anger all I want, but no matter what anyone says or doesn’t say, nothing is going to bring him back. I am mostly just very sad; it’s the kind of sadness that makes you feel sick inside, like you will never recover or be happy again. I already miss him so much, even though it’s only been a few weeks since I’ve seen him. I already have so many things to tell him, including all these wasted jokes that would fall on deaf ears if I even bothered to try to explain them to anyone else besides him.
Even though I have been told that “he wouldn’t want you to be sad”, I don’t really think he’d be that thrilled if all his friends and family just went about our business right away as if nothing had happened. However, after over three agonizing weeks, I finally got what I felt was a sign from him, trying to cheer me up. As much as he would appreciate knowing how much he meant to those of us he left behind, I know he wouldn’t want me to remain in this much pain forever.
My friend was taken from us at far too young an age. This experience has been a startling reminder of how fleeting life can be; how suddenly it can be over. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. While it is important to make the most of every day we have, we still need to give the loss of a loved one its proper due. Each mourning process is different and needs to be dealt with in its own way.
I am lucky for all the years I did have my friend and for all the happy memories I have of him. I will have no choice but to get on with my life eventually, but until then, if I seem angry or unhappy, don’t take it personally and if I see you, wave and keep on walking without stopping to chat, don’t be offended. Just be there if I do feel like talking, and don’t lose patience with me for crying or tell me I’ve reached the statute of limitations on grieving. And whatever you do – for the foreseeable future anyway – please, don’t expect me to be normal!◙
Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2016