A friend’s mom recently passed away, which brings the count to four of my friends who have lost their parents in the years following my dad’s death.
In terms of being a supportive friend during those times, I think I could say with certainty that I have failed.
I’m horrible at knowing what to say or do, regardless of my own personal experience.
When my friend lost his dad very suddenly, I had a hard time relating because my dad was sick for almost five years before he died. When another friend lost his mom, I had a hard time relating because the relationship between a mother and son is very different than that of a father and daughter.
Even when a different friend of mine lost his mother to the exact same cancer that took my dad, I still didn’t do a great job of understanding or being supportive. He wasn’t living with his mom for the entirety of her illness, and he was older when his mom died than I was when my dad died — his experience felt completely different than my own.
I’m not making excuses so I don’t have to step in and comfort friends in need. I would hope that these friends would know that I would be there if they ever needed to talk through their grief, but…
just because I’ve lost a parent doesn’t make me the resident expert on how to deal with losing a parent.
I think it’s expected of me to have all the answers. Everyone says I’m in a “unique position” to help others who have been through the same thing, but the fact is that no one has been through exactly the same thing.
Everyone’s experience is individual, and advice that was helpful to me might not work for anyone else.
I can’t tell anyone about the right or wrong way to grieve. I can’t tell them what to expect in the grieving process. I have no seeds of wisdom to share.
Even if I thought I could be of any help, I’m still in a place where residual feelings get stirred up when it comes to my dad’s death. “Unique position” or not, when a friend’s parent dies it puts me back where I was almost four years ago, and it can still hurt. Sometimes, for my own self-care, I have to separate myself from others’ grief and keep an eye on my own.
There’s no excuse for not trying to support each other. Sometimes, though, it’s better not to compare our journeys.
Maybe we can try to just hurt together.