A friend from Italy sent me a music video tonight. Despite not knowing the language of the song, I understood the emotion of the story. Love, betrayal, sadness, love again...only the Italians could do it so artistically. As I watched, I thought again how basic life really is. All any of us really want at the end of the day is human connection.
During the past few months, I have been meeting one-on-one with fellow widows whose husbands committed suicide. Their wounds are more recent than mine so I am unwittingly cast into the role as 'grief expert'. As I listen to their stories, I am astounded time and again how common we all are. Our fears are not unique. Our desires are not unique. We all want the same things: someone to love and understand us.
A woman I will call Monica is only a few months into this process. She talks of desperately reaching out to anyone who will listen because she is lonely and scared as her life unravels. As a result, she is getting burned because she allows untrustworthy people close to her during her time of need.
Grief blurs boundaries and distorts perceptions. We don't see it at the time because all we want is human connection amidst chaos. I understand this. I did the same thing. Who am I kidding? I still do it. Even though I no longer feel that I'm in the active grieving stage and feel confident about where I am in life, I occasionally let the wrong person close in an effort to connect with someone. And I get hurt. Again.
Widows are a misunderstood group. I have heard the following things in the past five years: Your vulnerability scares me. You should lie about how Sean died because people would care more if they thought he died in an accident instead of suicide. It's not like you lost a child; a husband can be replaced. (I swear these are all true.)
People misunderstand the magnitude of grief over a spouse. Not only did someone we love die; but the person who co-parented, who helped pay the bills, who held us at night, who kissed us, who shared our dreams, who we shared pillow-talk with died. Died, as in no longer on this planet in human form. Permanent. No second chances. Gone.
And we who once called ourselves wives and lovers are left feeling desperate for human contact as the world as we had known it crumbles. We freak out. We do things that seem strange or inappropriate. We make mistakes. Some overspend, overeat or overindulge. And that's okay. It really is. Each mistake is part of the messy process of healing. I listen to these other women and understand everything they are experiencing. I wish I didn't understand. I wish their stories of loneliness, betrayal and abandonment were unique, but they are really quite common.
What is so difficult to understand about people needing one another? Why is that scary? All of us, not just those who grieve, but every single one of us on this planet needs love, understanding and connection. Perhaps we all need to reach out more to that elderly neighbor who walks his dog every night, the goofy guy at work who just doesn't seem to fit or the widow down the street who looks like she has it all together. Why not? Love transcends language, age, economics, race, religion and politics. Unfortunately, so does loneliness.