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My Deepest Condolences August 25, 2015

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Friendships, Life Lessons/Growing Up, Real World.
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I’m standing in Paper Source staring at all these cards. When it’s a birthday or an anniversary, there’s always one or two that are just right, you’ll always find a unique greeting that makes you open it to see what’s on the inside. Unlike a birthday, or an anniversary or any of occasion, none of these cards are ones I want to pick up and open, none of these cards are right at all. How do you pick out a card that says everything you’re feeling when you don’t know what to say?

IMG_4893-2-500x500When we’re younger, our parents handle the hard stuff. Sure, as kids we have feelings and emotions when people pass away, or get fired, or fall ill, but we don’t have to handle them out in real life. In my lifetime, I’ve yet to lose someone so close that it paralyzed me for a moment. I’ve never had to decide if flowers were appropriate, and then try to pick some out, or wonder if sending a card was a better idea. I’ve never had to decide if I should jump on the first flight out and go, or if I should make a phone call instead. What I’ve learned is that there is no right answer, because when you’re grieving it all feels wrong anyway.

Being a grownup sucks sometimes. I think adults give sympathy to children who find themselves in situations of death,  divorce, or injury because inside it’s a way for them to deal with it, to have someone to care for, to say it out loud, “It’s going to be okay”.  The part that’s different is that children are not yet complex, their lives are just beginning so they can adapt, work through the pain, become easily distracted by their world, which is so much smaller than ours. When you’re grown, and on your own, and totally having to support yourself and your life that child-like adaptability becomes more of a cold resistance.  The gravity of a situation is so much more apparent because you, as an adult, understand what’s happening, you can dissect it and put it back together again and that makes you angry. You get mad when bad things happen because you can’t fix them or control them and what that does is make you feel like a child. So you feel like a child, but you have this huge responsibly to keep it together and go through life like it’s all okay…when to you, it’s not okay.

Being an adult makes you realize how you’ve been a bad person when something bad happens. You realize you didn’t make time for people, you didn’t follow your dreams, you weren’t considerate, and you aren’t successful enough. When bad things happen, grief makes you feel like you failed and now it’s too late to fix it. Grief also makes us feel guilty; why them? Why me? It’s a wave that takes over and highlights all the horrible things everywhere, it’s like you’re drowning and you want to get out but you can’t, there’s no air. Yet, you have to wake you every morning, put on your face, and walk out the door like everything you’ve worked for happened, like it’s perfect.

The truth is, the fact that I had to pick out a sympathy card at all is F’ed up. “I shouldn’t be here, in this store, doing this. All these cards suck, but I have to pick one.” It’s hard…and if you’re like me and you’ve never dealt with grief as a late twenty-something, you won’t like it. It’s odd to think it took this long to happen to me, I guess I’m lucky, but it makes me think perhaps there are people in their 30’s and 40’s who also don’t know what it’s like, or what to do, or how it feels. Even in a time where you feel so alone, you aren’t alone at all; there are a bunch of strangers doing what you’re doing, picking out a card for a family, pretending it will somehow provide some solace for their heavy hearts.

…but life goes on. It must. Just like there are births, graduations, engagements, weddings, there are deaths.  Some, untimely, unimaginable, unpredictable, some not. There is one lesson to be learned from the greeting cards, and that is that we always have love. In the happy times and sad times we have to love one another, even if we can’t stand each other, because that is what will push life forward. If we have a card for even the worst occasions, then that must prove there is still kindness in humanity, and there is hope for even the most broken-hearted.

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