Touched by loss. Empowered through community.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017
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It's been said that the depth of your grief is equal to the depth of your love for the person you lost. I also think that, for many, the depth of your grief equally expands your capacity for empathy.

When I was in high school, my best friend's mother died. At the time, I experienced many emotions, most of them centered around myself and how I was feeling. I tried to be there for her and help in whatever way she needed me to, but I truly did not understand what she was going through. I remember seeing her father in the days and weeks afterward, he seemed so lost. He relied on everyone around him to step in to help care for the kids and for years I witnessed from a distance the choices he made and often wondered what he was thinking when I didn't agree with some things. 

Years later, at my own husband's wake, I was fortunate to have so many people show up to support me, honor John and express their condolences. One of them was my best friend's dad, as so many others did before him that night, he hugged me but what he said made me see him and everyone else differently. He said "I know what you're going through, it will get better."

At that moment, I saw everything I had witnessed and thought I understood about his wife's death completely differently. I understood. I completely understood how he was feeling all those years ago. We had a connection, one neither of us wanted, and yet I feel closer to him in many ways and when we see each other at family parties, we connect at a level above the niceties and small talk, even if it looks like small talk to those around us. 

I imagine many of you have similar stories. I am still amazed at how many people I empathize with and connect with because of our shared experience of widowhood at a young age. I also find, through loss, that I connect and bond with more people than I ever could have imagined because loss effects everyone, and if I try hard enough, I can find a common ground with even the people who are most different from me.

No one asks to be part of this club, and I haven't met anyone yet who wishes they didn't have to be a member, but I would say without exception, everyone I meet through loss has expressed gratitude for being able to connect with others who have shared the same journey. 

No matter where you are on this journey, you can find someone who is traveling alongside you. As well, you will find someone who has gone before you and can say "It will get better" and you might just believe them because you've already connected and you know they understand.

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