Everyone’s got a tragic tale to tell. It doesn’t matter what it is, nor does it have to weigh more or less than others. A tragedy to someone is still painful and causes anxiety.
I hear from people who discuss their woes, only to stop and turn to say their problem isn’t as bad as mine. I say that’s silly. A problem is a problem, and each problem isn’t comparable. We do tend to compare our situations with others. “She’s got it worse” is a common remark, as if mentioning someone’s problems makes one’s own issues less problematic.
Schadenfreude, anyone? Or, maybe it’s human nature to be self-deprecating. I for one can’t walk around with a heavy chain around my neck declaring I’m a survivor/martyr. I also don’t want people to pity me. I don’t want people to pity us. I want people to see us with compassion, yes, but not pity. My kids and my husband are strong, resilient and aware. They know and feel that burden of loss every second. Yet, they don’t want to be known as the brother or sister of a suicide victim. They are their own selves, with their own tragic tales. Each has a story different from the other, because their relationships with Allie aren’t the same. They all love her, for sure. But the connections are different, because they’re different.
What I do want to emphasize with them is how not to walk around with that crutch. The loss of someone you dearly love in such a tragic way is a big crutch to walk with. But it shouldn’t define them. Each of us is so much more than survivors of suicide. Each of us is a multifaceted gem that will need polishing until the end of our days, hoping we all manage to get to Heaven with God and Allie someday.
The hardest thing I’m learning in this new journey is how to get beyond my grief. I am learning to look beyond the pain I feel. I am learning to look and listen. There are many people with tales to tell, and there’s never enough people who are willing just to be quiet and listen. I’m not referring to those who want to talk non-stop about their woes without learning from their woes. I’m referring to those who are truly lonely, isolated, anxious and fearful. The ones who say they’re ok or fine usually aren’t. Allie used to always say how happy she was, and obviously she wasn’t.
It is in our small actions of giving our time and ear that we are measured. Many of us can listen, if we stop and look beyond our own pains. We can all touch the isolated and lonely if we realize our own tragedy can be overcome when we learn to look beyond ourselves. I want each person I meet who is in pain to know that I will listen. I want each person who is in pain and lonely to find a connection. We can’t always hear each other above the noises from every day life. It’s also hard to find that right person and moment to stop, talk and listen. Each measure of kindness we give is a step towards heaven, and I for one will keep trying to stop and listen as I hope to see my girl with God someday.