I came across this article today: How Not to Say the Wrong Thing. The premise is that when someone is at the centre of a life-altering crisis, they are the inner circle and each concentric cirlce around them is a step down from the crisis.... they provided this diagram which explains it better than I can:
While it is based on instances where someone is dying from terminal illness, I think it still works for those of us dealing with the after-effects of death.
Interestingly, the comments on the article (you have to click through to read them) that take issue with the order of rings seems to come from those who are technically in rings 3 or 4.
I've been in those rings before and really did feel aggrieved that information wasn't being shared with me... but thank goodness I was able to pour comfort inwards rather than the fear and desperation I was feeling. .....Both my inlaws died from cancer just before Greg died (Greg's mother a year to the day before him). I was gutted when we discovered she had breast cancer and I think I prayed to every deity I could to spare her and allow the doctors to brilliantly halt her cancer. After all, we'd just lost Greg's dad 2 years previously to an aggressive cancer. I remember being desperate for information and frozen with fear. I hated not hearing updates as soon as they were available from the doctors. I just thank whatever deity it was that I prayed to that I was able to keep my feelings in check and just *be there* for Greg as he lost his mother.
But now that I am firmly in ring 1, I look out at those in the outer circles and thing "yes - I really don't need you to dump your feelings on me, for whatever you are feeling, it is exponentially larger for me. You may not see it in me because I am so good at putting on this "coping face", but trust me when I say it is worse for those of us in the inner circle".
I never realised this until AFTER I became a widow ....
But now... now I know how surreal it can be when I find myself comforting others because my husband's death is too hard for them to accept.
They tell me I am strong because I don't dissolve into tears every time I think of him because they do every time his name is mentioned. They never see the oceans of tears I cry at home away from those "looky-loos". ....and I don't just remember him when his name is mentioned .... I remember him with every part of me all the time. All. The. Time.
So yes, I really do think it is those of us who are faced with the empty chair at the dinner table, the ache that can only be relieved by arms that would hold us just so, the secret smile that has disappeared, the scent, the sound of his voice, the taste of his lips, the personal sounding-board and one man cheer-squad ...... and the empty side of the bed, Every Single Day who are in the inner circle. ....and I for one, don't need extra angst coming from the outer circles.....
Comfort inwards: Angst outwards.
I like this idea.
....(but I also like the idea that those in the inner circles can do BOTH comfort and angst to those in the centre of other circles).