I was supposed to get back to you all about the death of my friend’s husband. The rude fact is that I was on vacation when he died, and I haven’t even seen her yet. I have to admit this to you all because you may also feel that, despite your own loss, you are ill-prepared to comfort someone else who is grieving, even a close friend.
After a lot of self-abuse I’ve decided that this is because inherently we understand that each of us grieves differently. What I need isn’t what you want. How can we guess what to do for our friend? It’s impossible and paralyzing.
Today I was supposed to go see my friend, who was having a wake for her husband at their home. Family obligations kept me from going, but I think it was a relief of sorts. I’d rather see her by herself. I hope that’s ok with her.
The bottom line is that we are all lost on a sea of indecision. It’s a strange dance between what we, the “comforter,” is comfortable providing, and what the person mourning is comfortable receiving. There is no prescription. There is no “right thing.”
Were I a wise person, I’d like to author a book on modern grieving. The lessons taught to our parents and their parents are rusticated, antiquated, ridiculous. However, I, having needed the comfort of my friends, can’t even comfort my own grieving friends because I doubt that my instincts are correct.
What do you have to say, brain trust? Are there rules that we can write? Or do we just have to keep winging it into eternity? I surely hope that you can offer some suggestions, because there are grieving souls out there who need your wisdom.