Saturday, April 02, 2016
It's been three months and there has still not been one day when I don't cry at least once for Georg. I read an article last year that touched me so deeply I saved it to my desktop. It means even more to me now. It was written by Sheryl Sandberg (see credit below) and I have personalized it to reflect my own experience.
A childhood friend of mine who is now a rabbi recently told me that the most powerful one-line prayer he has ever read is: “Let me not die while I am still alive.” I would have never understood that prayer before losing my husband. Now I do.
I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning...I have spent many of my moments lost in that void. And I know that many future moments will be consumed by the vast emptiness as well.
But when I can, I want to choose life and meaning.
I have learned that I never really knew what to say to others in need. I think I got this all wrong before; I tried to assure people that it would be okay, thinking that hope was the most comforting thing I could offer. A friend of mine with late-stage cancer told me that the worst thing people could say to him was “It is going to be okay.” That voice in his head would scream, How do you know it is going to be okay? Do you not understand that I might die? I learned this past month what he was trying to teach me. Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not. When people say to me, “You will find happiness again,” my heart tells me, Yes, I believe that, but I know I will never feel pure joy again. Those who have said, “You will find a new normal, but it will never be as good” comfort me more because they know and speak the truth. Even a simple “How are you?”—almost always asked with the best of intentions—is better replaced with “How are you today?”
I can’t even express the gratitude I feel to my family and friends who have done so much and reassured me that they will continue to be there. In the brutal moments when I am overtaken by the void, when the months and years stretch out in front of me endless and empty, only their faces pull me out of the isolation and fear. My appreciation for them knows no bounds.
I miss Georg and want him back in the worst way. As a friend said: “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.” So, to honor Georg I promise to do all I can to kick the shit out of option B. But I will always mourn for option A.
As Bono sang, “There is no end to grief . . . and there is no end to love.” I miss you Georg.
(Sheryl Sandberg is a chief operating officer at Facebook. Read her story and the full essay here.)