January 26, 2022
In case you’re unfamiliar with the term “ghosted,” check out this 2019 The New York Times article about why people ghost: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/22/smarter-living/why-people-ghost-and-how-to-get-over-it.html. Essentially, ghosting occurs when a person severs communication with another person without explanation.
The LAST thing I thought would ever happen after my mom died in 2012 was that a close friend would ghost me. But it happened.
Remember being a kid and pinky swearing? Sometimes, it represented a guarantee of secrecy between friends. The pinky swear not only signified togetherness in the moment, but also a forever bond. While I often equated this to childhood, as an adult, I continued to believe in the power of forever bonds. However, following my mom’s death, my perspective about the pinky swear covenant significantly shifted.
This, I believe, is based in part in society’s craving for all things ‘good vibes’ and other toxic positive perspectives. In the face of loss, it’s inevitably difficult for a friend to embrace sorrow and truly empathize. Further, grief provokes such a significant level of discomfort that some simply can’t bear to witness or help carry the load.
What I discovered as I began my grief journey is that everyone is not equipped to walk alongside you.
I know this sounds harsh and may directly contrast with your view. Please let me explain.
Early in my grief process, fortunately, I had the support of several friends. They called. Sent flowers. Crafted lovely and supportive texts. And I appreciated what each person offered in that season. Nevertheless, as time moved on, I recognized the shift in attention directed towards me and my grief. Rather than the regular attempts to call or text, some relationships seemed to fade into the background.
I won’t lie, friend. My initial response to the relationship shifts was anger. I simply couldn’t understand how longstanding connections could melt away simply because my mom died. My emotional guards went up, and I began to question other’s attempts to support me. It was quite difficult to navigate for several years.
Here’s what I’ve discovered over 9 years after my mom’s death and almost two years after my dad’s passing.
What have your experiences been in relationships since experiencing a loss? What impact has your changing had on those closest to you? How might you communicate your needs with friends or explore new ones?
Here’s my challenge for you today, my friend.
Take a moment to reflect on what’s changed within you throughout your grief journey. Further, consider how others might be able to best support you, either by directly witnessing your grief or offering something else you may need. Finally, and most importantly, be gentle with yourself as you grieve.
Unfortunately, the process of grieving isn’t linear, clean, or predictable. What it can be, however, is one filled with self-compassion and understanding that as you’ve changed, relationships can change too.
I’d love to know your thoughts.
As always, I’m grateful for you!
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