CW – trauma
Everything is relative, which is an interesting word. I was trying to distract myself from missing my (now dead) wife by watching trashy tv. But what I ended up watching was DIY SOS (Grenfell), which followed the progress of a new boxing gym being built for the Grenfell community following the horrific fire and loss of life in the Grenfell Towers. It made me think about how, relatively speaking my wife’s death was so peaceful and so much less horrific than the experiences of so many within the Grenfell community. Everyone’s grief is valid and different, but for me, I could sit in peace with the death of someone I loved, when that death was instant and painless. It was a timely reminder too, as all the Grenfell locals talked about the importance of healing and moving forward. Not forgetting loved ones, but looking towards the living and supporting those around them. I reflected on how many people are supporting me and how I in turn still need to support others, who need support or rely upon me or my input to help them move forward in their lives.
The next day, this relativity was again highlighted during a conversation with a friend. He had come round to see how I was doing, to reach out and offer company, someone to talk with about my wife, about our life. In this reaching out, we connected deeply over our shared attitudes to a variety of social issues. For me, the difficulties he has outweigh my own. I know, when I accept Jane’s death as real, that she is never physically coming back. I know that I had something beautiful and precious and now I have the memories. He has memories and hope, a decade of hope. I cannot image the pain and grief involved for all the people with similar journeys. He is cheerful most of the time, has the biggest heart, gentlest personality. But still his journey weighs heavily.
Think about families separated by war or natural disaster or crime, never knowing if or when they might see the rest of their families again. For refugees and asylum seekers in countries that make it almost impossible to become a citizen or even have their claims processed, their fractured lives are rarely thought about or understood. Children who haven’t seen parents for years, sibling separated, not knowing if they can ever reconnect, lovers, spouses, all these living on hope, hope that one day they can have back the people they have lost that may still be the people they once knew. And this is where the relative (kin) of relative hit me hardest. I can grieve my loss of kin, knowing it is final, whilst many people are stuck in a (relatively more) tortuous wait of hoping that they can be with their relatives (kin) again.
These two very disparate experiences have helped take the edge off my grief, remind me how much I have had and still have and how much connection between friends, or even relative strangers, can help to ease the burdens that people are carrying on their journey. My challenge to readers this week is to find out how refugees, asylum seekers or victims of natural disasters are supported where you live. Can they fully live or are they getting by on an ever diminishing hope. Whether you choose to do anything about that or not is up to you, but I have finally understood why Jane used to tell me constantly “helping others eases your own suffering”. Kia Kaha
Great article Emma. Enormous losses as you so clearly articulate here. Can be overwhelming.