As some of you know, this past week has been...busy. The week was crammed with house cleaning, doctor's appointments, a long overdue visit with my cousin, a minor outpatient surgery, dinner dates, sharing stories, and saying goodbyes. My cousin began the week by attending a family wedding. The week ended with a death in the family and a new grandchild for a friend.
My cousin and I spent hours talking. When you don't see someone for years, there is indeed a lot to talk about. And our family is a large one, so it seems like we never keep up with all that's going on.
But as we talked, we shared many things, many private griefs that we wouldn't share with anyone else. I had an epiphany. Certain private griefs are only shared face to face. They are not the sort of thing you talk about on the telephone or put in writing. No, we keep them in our heart--possibly for years--and then when we are finally face to face, we unburden our hearts. It occurred to me that my cousin had been waiting a long time to talk.
We are eager to share our joys. When weddings and new babies are in the picture, we're happy to tell everyone around us our good news. We can't wait to shout it from the housetops.
But grief...some how once we move past the initial shock, it's incredibly difficult to open our hearts and share those shadowy fears, those terrible hurts, those incredible regrets and guilts that only appear with the death of a loved one. Grief makes us too vulnerable.
When we do finally break down and talk about it, it will likely be with our closest friend. Unfortunately, in this day and age, that person may be across the country.
For many years, I've failed to understand the importance of face to face visits with my kin. Most of them live two or three days travel from me. I don't travel well. It was so much easier to stay at home and make do with telephone calls or e-mails. It was only as my cousin and I talked I finally realized the true value of making the family visits.