Not okayness

You know what is still the most prevalent thought regarding my sister, Ryane.

The fact that she will never “be” again.

She will never stand by my side.

She will never laugh at one of my jokes.

Come on vacation with me.

Walk with me through the park.

Live with me in an apartment, as I’m sure we would have.

I will never get to cry against her.

And the craziest thing is when I cry about her, all I want is to be sobbing into HER shoulder.

Which is the most impossible part of it,

because I wouldn’t be crying about her in the first place,

if she wasn’t gone. If she hadn’t died.

And with that thought, comes the profound loneliness that follows…

The world will never be okay in my mind without her,

There’s always something missing,

each happy moment twinged with sadness.

It happened this morning,

I went for a walk at a local park –

It is the first day over 60 degrees in Chicago in what feels like forever,

I’m walking around the park, doing a quick mediation,

and it asked me what I was grateful for,

and I started crying,

Not because I don’t have a lot to be grateful for,

because I listed quite a bit that I am – my family, friends, boyfriend, etc.

But when I thought to myself, “wow, I am grateful for this beautiful day.”

I started to cry….

because she would never get to enjoy it.

She would never get to enjoy a beautiful day again,

I would never to get to enjoy with her.

Just that simple thought was enough,

to throw me over the edge again.

So then I’m apologizing to God,

because I truly am grateful for the many things in my life,

but that sadness, just comes up and chokes me,

It actually comes most often in my happiest moments,

which I’m sure would be shocking for most of you.

But it is in those moments,

that I realize she will never be apart of it again.

She will never share my joy,

and I will never share hers again.

I am currently reading a book called “Tiny Beautiful Things – Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar” By: Cheryl Strayed. It’s an advice column turned into a book, and it is beautifully written. One chapter especially stood out to me – it is discussing a man, who is engaged to a woman who lost her mom years ago. She is one of the most joyful people he knows, but she has moments where she breaks down missing her mom. He doesn’t know how to support her, doesn’t know what she needs in those moments. Sugar gives great advice that I could relate to, here are some of my favorite lines:

  • “There isn’t one good thing that has happened to either of us that we haven’t experienced through the lens of our grief.”
  • “She is your joy on wheels whose every experience is informed and altered by the fact that she lost the most essential, elemental, primal, and central person in her life too soon.”
  • “It will never be okay that she lost her mother. And the kindest, most loving thing you can do for her is to bear witness to that, to muster the strength, courage, and humility it takes to accept the enormous reality of its not okayness and be okay with it the same way she has to be.”
  • “Get comfortable being the man who says “Oh honey, I’m sorry for your loss” over and over again.”
  • “It feels lame because we like to think we can solve things. It feels insufficient because there is nothing we can actually do to change what’s horribly true.”
  • “Ask about her mother sometimes without her prompting. Console her before she asks to be consoled…. You mother-in-law is dead, but she lives like a shadow mother in the woman you love. Make a place for her in your life too.”

(Pages 97-99)

I’ve had a lot of people ask what they should say to someone who has lost a loved one. I think Sugar does a great job at summing it up. The main takeaways would be:

  • Understand you cannot fix it or them.
  • The best response is “I’m sorry for your loss.”
  • It will never be okay that they lost that person.
  • Ask about their loved one without prompting. Make space for the one they lost in your life too.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone. I’ve learned a lot from it.

Remember that you can make it easier for someone to grieve a loved one. And it’s not about the perfect words. It’s about creating a world where they can bring that person to life again. Where they can share the love that that person gave to them and to others with you.


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