There are few things I hate as much as seeing my friends in pain, but for the past couple weeks, that’s exactly where I’ve been. My friend, one of the closest I’ve ever had, was experiencing a break up that was particularly crushing. When she called me, I was in a grocery store, looking for creamer for my mother, and her voice—swollen from tears and swallowing down spit—stopped me.
She asked me simple questions: when does the pain stop, when will I feel okay, when will I stop missing this person that hurt me?
She called me: the woman who has never maintained a relationship past a year, the woman who has so many random issues, the woman who has always held on to things for too long. As I looked at the different brands in front of me, I said what I wish someone had said to me when the longest of my short relationships came to an end: the pain doesn’t exactly stop, it transforms…changes within you, changes you, and you have to let it.
It’s honestly not the answer anyone probably wants to hear.
Grief is something that sits like a cloud on us once we’ve come in close proximity. To lose someone that was such a real part of you leaves some wounds that never seem to fully recover. I was reminded of friendships that ended abruptly, deaths that were unexpected, the absence of a person that you shared a bed with. Each has a different depth, but the grief that accompanied them was so real. It felt at times like a weight, not necessarily on my shoulders but strapped around my torso—dragging me down and unable to move forward or back, it just held me in one spot.
The thing about grief is that while we’re still processing it, while we’re still grappling with a loss that has left our life at a standstill, everything around us is still moving. Some say that continuance can be helpful, a distraction, a way to remind you that life does in fact keep going, but when stuck in the rut, stuck at the bottom of the hole of grief or depression or anxiety it can make us feel like we’re simply alone.
I told my friend to never feel like she was a bother. That’s what I felt like whenever dealing with the predictable loss of something: don’t call X, don’t text Y, they’ll be disappointed in my inability to let go. I always worried my grief would impose on others, but this conversation helped me realize that as a friend, her grief would never be an imposition: call me now at 7pm, call me later at 2am: I’ll find a way to give you whatever I can, even if it’s just a word to say, it’ll be alright—maybe not today, but one day.
What would you have wanted to hear when going through grief? Be it a break up, bad news from a doctor…when in pain, we just want to be comforted.