It’s the practice of showing people they are not alone.
Grief can be isolating. Because it feels like it pulls you out of the present world and into this strange in between. Where you can be present in a meeting, but also present in a memory at the exact same time.
You tear up at inopportune times. You say things that make people uncomfortable.
You need. A lot. You are a big raw ball of need. And you need to know you’re not alone.
To hear it over and over.
It still surprises me how every time I hear those words, I feel some relief.
But it’s not just the words.
It’s the showing up.
Our capacity to love each other across time and distance is incredible.
The ways friends, family, colleagues, my Momma’s friends, and relative strangers have shown up for me floors me. Knocks me to my knees with gratitude.
A phone call. A text message. A letter. A care package. A visit. A meal. A glass of champagne.
A prayer, continual prayer, so much prayer. Prayers to fill voids and hearts and emptiness and ache.
All of it pours salve into the gaping need. Into the hole in your heart.
Bringing hand lotion to the hospital because you have to reapply hand sanitizer every 30 seconds in ICU.
Driving hours to stand in a rain-drenched mountain cemetery when the heavens wept with you.
Flying across the country to pay respects. No notice, no heads up, no asking, just literally showing up sitting there in a pew.
Opening your home to be a haven, a shelter from the storm, and letting you claim the TV room as your bedroom, never asking when you’re leaving, but instead when you are coming back.
Taking the keys to your new apartment and unpacking all of your boxes from your cross-country move.
Flying across the country to hold your hand, help you organize a life out of all the mess that came out of those boxes, lovingly telling you to stop being a hoarder, and then making you give away all the crap you don’t need. Just like your Momma would. Definitely the way everyone wants to spend their vacay, I’m sure.
Bringing over shelving and a drill to turn your second bedroom into a girl’s dream dressing room.
Receiving photos out of the blue in the mail from an old family friend of your Mom pregnant and radiant at her baby shower for you, which lets you see an expression that you never realized you get from her.
Sharing memories, experience, wisdom. Just sharing.
Not turning away. Sitting in the discomfort, in the awkward, in the rawness and tears. Asking again and again. Checking in. Understanding there is a process, a journey, and leaving space for it.
Sitting beside you in silence.
In ways, big and small. Over and over.
Because life is best walked in community.
And you are not alone.