Friendship

I’m a pretty friendly person, and despite my natural instinct to be an introvert, I make friends easily. This has been a good thing for the most part, it has given me friendships that have spanned many years, through high school, university and into adulthood. It has also brought me some “friends” who turned out to be less than great people in my life, and have in time, fallen by the wayside. But there is one thing I have come to realize recently, I don’t have to befriend everyone. I will be friendly to everyone, unless they give me good reason not to be, but that doesn’t mean that I have to count them amongst my friends.

To me, friends have some shared interests, they have some shared ideals. They don’t have to share every view I have, or every interest, but having some similarities is a great thing, it’s solid ground in which to stand on. Where I have recently learned to define a friendship however, is in how my interactions with these people, leave my heart feeling. If I come away feeling hurt by their views, or hurt by their words, but otherwise they are good people, perhaps that isn’t enough in this stage of life to maintain a meaningful friendship.

I don’t want to question my interactions with them, and I don’t want to butt heads and fight. I want a drama free life for he most part! And why should either side of a friendship feel that they need to hold back from saying something that they believe in in order to not upset the other? Yet, here I am, looking at a few friendships and wondering whether it’s best to just walk away.

I’m old enough and ugly enough to know that I don’t have to be friends with everyone.

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The Stigma of Grief

I hope my mom doesn’t mind me using her as an example as I write this, but talking to her and reading the words she has expressed to me recently, has me thinking about the stigma of grief. Time.

I call time a stigma of grief, because there seems to be an unspoken timeline that people expect you to “get over” the grief you feel after loss. Most people are aware of the idea that there are five understood stages:

  1. Denial and Isolation – Denying the reality of the situation and rationalizing the emotions and pain.
  2. Anger – The pain surfacing after denial and dealing with it by projecting anger towards people/places/things as a coping mechanism and often in a search for answers.
  3. Bargaining – Trying to regain control by using “If only…” to come to terms with the situation.
  4. Depression – Sadness, regret, sometimes verbalized, sometimes dealt with quietly and often helped by understanding and support both verbal and physical.
  5. Acceptance – A stage some never reach.

The last stage, Acceptance, is one that that sticks out to me most significantly. It is the stage that not everyone will reach and it isn’t a stage that means you are happy with the situation that has unfolded, but rather you have reached a point in your mourning that you are able to move forward with coping mechanisms. The waves of grief still come, but you may not be searching for answers still, you may have let go of the anger you had felt.

So with understanding that there is somewhat of an order, then surely there is no real timeline to how long you mourn. Yet, I often see people using terms like “Aren’t you over that yet?/Can’t you just let it go and move on?” to people who are in the thick of this emotional storm. Would you ask a person who has been given a bed of nails, whether they slept well? What answer would you expect?

I’m not writing this to put anyone down for feeling this way. Some people haven’t dealt with great losses in their lives, and thus, don’t have first hand experience of grief. I certainly didn’t have a significant connection to grief other than looking from the outside in, until my father died.

I hope that when faced with other peoples grief I can offer some sort of comfort or support, even if it’s just being there to listen when they are really in the rough of it. I don’t want to hear only about the good days because you may be afraid of sharing the negative feelings with others. I want to be there for you and love all facets of you, whether they are joyful memories, or sorrowful cries.