Tragedy struck yesterday. Tragedy didn’t strike me or anyone in my family directly, but it struck someone I love and care about very much, my best friend, who has been through lots of bad days and deserves a whole heck of a lot better. She lost her sister yesterday.
I don’t want to talk about that loss because I can’t really speak to it and it isn’t my story to tell anyway. But it got me thinking and reflecting on grief, my own grief and how I processed Ukiah’s loss, my best friend’s grief, and our reactions to grief. Right as my best friend was finding out she had lost her sister, I was heading up the stairs to feed my daughter. As the tragedy unfurled around us, I was at a loss for what to do, how to react. Should I have stopped breastfeeding, leaving a crying baby in my wake to comfort my friend, should I stay and wait the agonizing minutes out until I’m done to talk to her? I was in a shambles as to what to do. I anxiously waited out the minutes, dealing with my own grief and desperation while holding my daughter. Every minute that went by, hearing the sobs and cries of my friend’s voice, I felt worse and worse.
My husband, who was away on an errand, came back to the news. He came upstairs and said the smartest thing he could say all day. “We should pay for her airfare home.” Then he did the smartest thing he did all day, he marched back downstairs, got on his computer and arranged for her flight home. He did what I wasn’t in the right frame of mind of getting close to doing, meaning he did something while I still hadn’t done a darn thing but feed my daughter.
Being on the outside of someone’s grieving process is a strange thing. Through the years I’ve been on both sides, inside looking out, outside looking in, and sometimes in the middle of both. Everyone processes grief differently, and everyone processes another person’s grief just a differently. What did she need? Was I capable of doing the right things?
But then I have to remind myself that grief is not something you should over-think. She needed a friend, a sounding board, a shoulder to cry on and a body to hug and I was nothing if not those things. And I thought back to my own grief at my son’s loss and how my best friend, on top of her own grief, helped me handle mine. From my perspective, she did a whole lot more than that. In those dark times, she talked me off an emotional ledge or two (or twenty! Ha!) where I was having trouble processing my emotions. The least I could do, or try to do, was the same for her.
We spent the rest of the night talking. Random topics came up that passed the time, everything from childhood friends to my weird, but still strongly held belief that I had to watch out for people trying to give my daughter El Ojo strictly because my best friend had told me all about it so many years ago. I didn’t know if I was doing the right things, trying to fill the silence.
I still don’t know if I did or if I’m doing enough to help with my friend’s grief. I wonder if she asked herself that question when I lost my son. I guess that’s something you never know for sure.