Last week, my mother in law passed away. As a husband my first thought, and my first priority, was my wife, who had lost her mother. As a man who has lost a parent, but not my mother, I also knew this wasn’t a situation where I had any experience myself.
Luckily, I do know women who have taken the time and effort to share what they went through in losing their mother. Some of them in direct conversation with me, some of them just in Facebook posts or memorials.
Unknowingly to me at the time, those posts and pieces of conversations had stuck with me and formed a basis for what to expect in the immediate aftermath as well as the weeks and months to come. No, it wasn’t a full and complete roadmap to everything we are dealing with, every situation is different, I couldn’t expect that. But I also didn’t go in blind thanks to a group of women brave enough to talk about and share their own pain. It’s a hard thing to talk about, and I can only imagine how little any of them wanted to admit to any weakness or need of support, yet by doing just that, they have shone a light into something many people are going to have to deal with themselves.
They have proven to me that this is normal, and that we can get through this. Simply by talking about how they have.
As I ponder this experience, I can’t help but think about the other hard things in life that many of us have to deal with. Yes grief, but also mental health issues, addiction, surviving abuse, etc.
How much light can we shed into those situations by simply talking about it? We may not even know that we’ve impacted anyone. Heck much like my experience, the person listening or reading may not even know that they are learning about something that they’ll need at some later date, but by sharing we are simply increasing the amount of light and information that is available. That is a good thing. We need more of that. We need it until talking about it is easy and comfortable for everyone, and until there is no mystery and secrecy surrounding it.
Think of what our world could look like without the shame, secrecy, and misunderstandings that come with these painful experiences. Think of how much better the lives of people in the midst of them could be with a society that knows much more and could offer effective support.
That is a world worth striving for. So keep talking, and thank you to all the people in my life, online and offline, who teach me.