It’s been four days now. Four days since my grandmother died. I will not tell you why or how she died it is not relevant to what I’m about to share. What is relevant is that, now, she is dead. And I, along with friends, relatives and family, am grieving. This was especially hard to write (it took 4 days, duh) since it is easier and much, much, more comfortable to write about joyous laughter and wonderful achievements. After all, prior to my grandma’s passing a series of wonderful news had happened. In and out of the blogging of the world, I had my second guesting as a blogger, became a part of another blogging site, witnessed my cousin pass the licensure exam for teachers, had my 100-days of blogging, and a whole lot more. What I am trying to point out is that it is painfully easier to pretend to smile and laugh, and go about my day than to just actually … grieve.
What prompted this post then … is a series of thought, not knowing how to respond to people offering their condolences, and a conversation. And also, the sad truth behind platitudes, in and of itself.
Platitudes, defined, are statements that express an idea that is not new. A banal, trite, or stale remark. I, often, see or witness them during these times – times of grieving.
Grieving, or perhaps, grief, is not an alien concept to us all. However, it does not only occur during (or after) death. When your relationships end, you grieve. When you miss golden opportunities, you grieve. When faced with betrayal, you grieve. When someone dear to you suffers from an illness, you grieve. Grief does not only come after loss – sometimes the very thought of losing a loved one is enough. And yet, people nowadays, for some kind of reason, deny grief to the person who wants to. Deny … this is when the platitudes surface. Advices shot from the dark. Anything … just to ease the sufferer’s pain.
That’s just the thing isn’t it?
Why do we refuse to feel pain?
This is not my very first time to see death or become acquainted with it. It has, for a long time (and occassionaly still is) been the centerpiece for most of my stories; the reality that keeps me rooted. We all die. I have been to enough funerals to witness what it does to the people the dead have left behind. I have shred my own tears in some, and comforted other’s back when needed to. And while it has taught me a lot about human nature, empathy, and life – it has also been instrumental to why I am cynical to human nature. I know I am not the only one when I say that these experiences have made me very much annoyed at the very people who I am writing this post for – those unfamiliar with what loss does to people. (Probably also the main reason why I rarely tell people grieving news)
The gist of it all is this: there are things in life that do not need to be fixed, undone, or solved. The cracks in the mirror are there and there is no point in fixing it, really. For a grieving person, if you try to rationalize or make their pain go away, all it does is intensify the ache.
I mentioned a conversation and this was what transpired. A friend of mine, having learned of my grandmother’s passing told me his sentiments about a phrase synonymous to or perhaps exactly “it” we mostly hear during the death of a loved one, “my condolences go out to you and your family.” He told me that sometimes, it pisses him off. As you can imagine, I asked him why and his response was that sometimes, it no longer feels sincere. In this day of age and technology, people are free to rant on and on in social media sites and burials and death are no exception. We often see posts with “We miss you ____ and we love you ____” among others and countless comments of “condolences” offered and emoticons. I understood what my friend was meaning to say. It became a sort of “necessary polite thing” to say. Kind of like when you’re about to eat something but you ask your companion whether he/she likes to share it with you just to be — polite. You don’t mean it but you know you have to say it. The downside then is, it is because of this culture that banal comments become enough – ‘seem’ to be enough. But they’re not, are they?
What then is?
In this state of miserableness, one thing ANYONE can do is acknowledge their pain.
Love them enough to suffer with them.
Love them enough to feel their pain. Do not try to understand it. No rationalizing is needed here.
Love them enough to sit beside them in silence.
Grief is neither a problem you need to solve for them nor their disease you need to cure.
Love them enough to suffer, be miserable, and be silent with them. All it takes is the willingness to stay even if only for a while, or as long as necessary.