I was recently in Illinois for a short stay due to my Grandpa Tom's passing. I learned a lot while I was home, mostly about how important it is to be supportive and truly make an effort, no matter how hard or far away it may be for friends and family in times of loss -and celebration. Since moving to Denver, a number of our friends have got married, suffered loss, or had children and looking back I see how these things have slipped through time without as little as a note from yours truly.
My grandpa passed early Thursday morning and I arrived around noon on Friday. In the following days I saw such an amazing display of love and support from so many people in that little town. Some made food, some made gifts, everyone made an effort. Margo made the biggest apple pie I'd ever seen in my life... from apples straight off the tree in her yard -and sent chicken she had raised! Joy made a homemade chocolate cake and made a special trip to the one man in town who sold black walnuts, to top the cake. People pulled out all the stops, made their best recipes, ordered flowers from the most thoughtful florists. There were phone calls, visits from neighbors, friends and family. It was amazing. Maybe this is what always happens? This was my first experience with intermediate loss. I'm pretty sure stuff like this only happens in small towns.. I'd be willing to bet on it actually.
I had a chance to spend a wonderful "Sterling day" with my bff and next door neighbor from childhood, Hannah Banana, and we discussed these things. We agreed that when someone was suffering a loss we always just -figured it was better to let them deal with it in their own way.. that any words from us were insignificant and we didn't want to "butt in" or bother them. If they wanted to talk about it, they would, eventually.
I think a large number of people feel this way, not because they are mean or rude or selfish, but because they are scared. Its a lot easier to deny loss if you never engage in where its happening. Hannah is making the most amazing efforts at being a good "old fashioned neighbor" in every sense. I hope to also become more aware of people's joy and pain. I hope to carry the understanding that notes of gratitude or sympathy never actually "offend" anyone- and that people need people, no matter how strong they seem.