This weekend, on a campout deep in the Texas woods with many of those whom I hold near and dear to my heart, I met a woman who is angry. She is angry at the Gods, she is angry at life and she is angry at her situation. She called down the wrath of the Gods, dared them to challenge her, to beat her, to apologize to her.
You see, her dear husband died four months ago in a motorcycle accident -- which was quite unexpected and very much a shock for this woman. Her emotions are very, very raw and new. She is hurting to the very core of her being, her heart is broken and her world is completely and utterly flipped upside down and inside out.
She wanted to argue with everyone who tried to tell her...it's not about you. His death had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with you... We tired to tell her, don't challenge the Gods. But she would not listen. She dominating group conversations and demanded by her very presence the attention of every person in the group over and over again.
Alcohol made her more beligerant. She dominated everything.
The thing is, she is a sweet soul, I could feel it buried underneath her anger and her grief. I saw it when she got up early the next morning before anyone else and picked up the garbage and things left behind from the festivities of the night before.
When I encountered her, as she was finishing picking up after us, I asked her to sit and talk with me awhile. I asked her about her husband and what happened, how long ago and let her talk.
Then I shared with her that I, too, had suffered a loss that totally rocked my world and turned it upside down and inside out. I told her, I promised her, that this, too, would pass and that in time she would find her "new" normal, she would not hurt so very, very much and she would learn how to deal with her pain. I promised her there would come a day when she would realize that her every waking moment was no longer about her husband and her pain. I told her my own belief, what helped get me through the first two years or so when it hurt so much, that I believe we come to this earth to learn what it is to be human, and we choose what experiences we will have so that we can learn and to grow. To experience the death of one we love so very dearly is one of those things that comes with being human beings, it is unavoidable and a very painful part of our journeys.
She focuses on the last moments, worried about whether he suffered. I know how she feels, but for the sake of my sanity, I could not dwell on those thoughts when my son died.
What I didn't tell her, and I would if I could have that conversation with her again is that the first year is the absolute hardest, when you go through the first of everything without the one you love. I would tell her to not let other people tell her how to grieve or for how long, but to take the time she needs to grieve in her own way. I would tell her she is not alone, that her reaction is very normal and it's okay.
This woman has people who love her and are caring for and watching out for her very lovingly. I am glad for that.
It's hard to watch someone going through that kind of wild, angry, passionate grief. But sometimes, one can find comfort from a stranger who can show a small kindness in listening and sharing. I hope that in some small way I gave her some measure of comfort to help carry her through this terrible time in her life. I'll probably never see her again, but if I do, I'll be sure to check and see how she's doing.