For whatever reason for many, many people, it just didn’t seem real. So they couldn’t just see taking extraordinary measures or even inconveniencing themselves very much for something they didn’t see in front of them or, sad to say, for people they didn’t care about that much.
Can I just tell you, I think that applies to many more circumstances than we are willing to admit. I think this could be the source of much pain and even rage, because we’re not good at expressing or managing grief in this country. We are a people who are always telling ourselves to get over it, whatever it is. And we worship the individual, the great I, so we don’t really know how to think about or talk about something that doesn’t involve us directly.
One of the things I learned in 2019, and saw repeated over and over again in 2020-21, was that there are a lot of people who are so uncomfortable with the idea of death, that they become almost unbearable to be around when you are grieving yourself. They are so uncomfortable with grief, that they really, really need you to get over your grief so that they don’t have to feel uncomfortable anymore.
It’s a weakness. One that cuts people off from their own emotions, whether it be hurt, pain, anger or grief. It hurts people, all in the name of someone else’s comfort.
We see it when people complain about child abuse public service announcements, put in the “required” time at a funeral, avoid people they know dealing with mental health issues, and so on. And it’s not going to change, until it’s them or someone they care enough about to make an effort to get past their own discomfort.
Or, maybe it won’t change. Maybe they’ll continue to isolate themselves from anyone who is hurting. That’s a choice, one any of us is free to make.
Or we can choose to allow people to hurt, and grieve, and simply be with them. Simply care more about that other person than our own discomfort.
Are you capable of it? I know some people who are, and I am so, so grateful to have them in my life. I know some others who have shown over the past couple of years, that they really aren’t capable. I hope they can learn to be, but for now, I know not to count on them.