A friend on Facebook recently shared their sadness at the fact it's been 9 years since their parent passed away. They wished they could've shared all they'd accomplished in the past 9 years with the person they miss so much. My heart broke for them. Comments popped up quickly, and many of them were quick to note, "They would be so proud of you!" or "They're proud of you, wherever they are!"
In the instant you sense a friend's sadness and longing, I understand the urge to comfort them and tell them their lost loved one would be proud. But the thing is, we don't allow people to be sad in this culture. We want to wipe it away and tell them everything's OK, your loved one would be proud of you, happy for you. All due respect, and I know that it comes from a place of caring and love, but there are many moments it doesn't help to hear those things.
It's been just a little over a year since my mom passed away. The shock of it still sneaks up on me, taking my breath away with the stark realization she's not been away on some temporary trip, about to walk into the front door once again and take off her shoes and watch Modern Family with me, laughing like lunatics together on the couch. I can't imagine NINE years. Time will carry me forward whether I want it to or not, and nine years will come.
My mom would've been proud of me for getting through this past year. I'm sure of it. But I will never get to hear her say the words again, I'll never get to see the look on her face again, or see her excitement again. It's a fact. And I want to be sad about it, because it's sad, and I have every right to be. And I want to share my feelings, not to elicit sympathy from others, but only to share honestly and truthfully that I am sad, to say it out loud to the world, to mourn her, miss her out loud. And in that moment there is truly nothing that will make the sadness go away. I miss her hearing her laugh, making her smile, and hearing the words from her own mouth, "I'm so proud of you. I love you." I miss it, and I'm sad about it, and the only thing you can do if you truly want to send comfort is to acknowledge that it's sad and sit with me in my sadness, if only for a moment.
You don't have to stay. But bear witness to it with me. Nothing could be more welcome than that.