In the NKH Community there’s a death bandwagon that happens after a family announce their angel has gained their wings. Hundreds of messages are sent to the family. Publicly every NKH page has an announcement, with a picture. It takes over facebook, really. Hundreds of comments are left for the family, and hundreds of comments are sent to the people who posted about the community loss. They have prayers, and are sorry for all the losses and are sending so much love (I’ve said those platitudes too, no judgement here).
I’m not sure how I feel about this bandwagon – this giant flood of not so comforting posts. I’m torn.
I’ve been that poster. I’ve posted about more children passing than I would like too. I said I was devastated, and heartbroken and struggling. But truth is for most of the children I’ve posted about – I’d never met that child. I’d known them through the community, through the posts that their parents made. The pictures they put up. The messages they sent. Halle Mae. Kaleb. Mayanak. Cathryn. Gregory. Siem.
I say their names to remember them. They’re important, and they were so loved and will be fiercely missed.
But truth is, I never met them. I don’t have relationships with their parents. The grief of their parents I imagine is huge and very much theirs. But I don’t know them and I can’t know for sure. My grief? I didn’t know it at the time but my grief is fear that it will happen to my child. I posted about these children in such a blithe manner. I really did. I had feelings and I took to the internet (I still am, clearly).
But now I’ve had tiny insight to the other side. Alexander, a boy I knew in real life outside of the internet and met, several times in the last two years died. I adore his Mama, and we’d send messages and do visits and invite each other to the few social gatherings we arranged each year. We’re on each others Christmas Card Lists. I knew he was ill and visited when I could. I knew when it was days and couldn’t visit and it broke me. They graciously let us know when he’d gained his wings, and oh. I had a whole lot of complex feelings, and I felt so strongly for his parents. I struggled, and thought of him constantly.
It was raw, this grief. Because this grief wasn’t about my son, it wasn’t about how I felt about NKH, it wasn’t a fear that one day NKH will take Mikaere. This grief was about Alexander, the dent he’d made in our lives and the hole that exists where he was. I was feeling his loss, specifically. His loss, and such compassion and love for his parents and their loss.
And after his parents let the world know and the memorial posts came flooding in I wanted to tell everyone to shut up. I didn’t, of course. They have grief and feelings and love and none of it was malicious and they have every right to post and make videos and share their grief and they should absolutely do that.
After some gentle examination I worked how I was upset because I could see the difference in my posts. The difference between grief and my fear for Mikaere, and grief that’s because I feel the loss for Alexander specifically. I wanted to say the later feels more genuine, I don’t think that’s true. It’s grief. Complex and unwieldy. I don’t know if that difference even matters. My grief is all over the place, and I’m trying to think and feel my way through it.
I’m struggling. I don’t know how to feel about it. But I do know that I want you to know about it. Not my grief and my feelings but I want to talk about grief. I wish there was more open, genuine talk about grief and death. I can’t help but feel that if we as a society were more open to grief and death, and if we were okay to sit with the uncomfortable together for one hot minute without trying to shy away or fix the unfixable the burden might be less. That we might be able to sit together to remember the people who are important to us, that we could openly feel and say how grief is complex. How death is unfair and brutal and a relief and grace and there is anger and pain and love and hurt and it’s all mixed in together. That we can love and miss and grieve openly without someone telling us to pull it together, or hide it away.
And I get how crazy that is, because here I am trying desperately (and openly) trying to come to terms with my grief over and over and over. In one post after another. I’m trying to be open to feeling what I feel around grief and death. Right now it feels so wrong, and hurts and it’s heavy and huge. I can’t help but think there must be some other way (or rather, that there must be some better way forward for managing those feelings). That there is a way to have a better and healthier relationship with life, illness and death.
We’ll see. I’m sure there will be more posts on grief.