This morning I was struck by how heavy our feeds have been with the weight of grief and sadness in 2020. So many loved ones have experienced devastating losses. Social media has become a way for us to share a tiny piece of these heartaches, and I appreciate seeing all of the supportive messages, the warm embrace of friends, and the memories shared through heartwarming photographs.
But I want to say something to you about invisible grief.
Please, please, please understand that this is not about me and my needs in 2020. My heart is at peace, and I am happy, and my family has always had a tremendous village around us. I recognize that my choice to be open and vulnerable in ways that most people won’t has opened doors to receiving love and to healing that have helped me so much. 💕 And I feel a responsibility to write, because I can, for the people who are hurting without being noticed.
There is a chance that someone you know is going through a divorce right now. There is a chance that this person is experiencing the intense pain and grief of a loss that they feel they cannot post about. There is a chance that this person is facing their first holiday without their spouse, without in-laws who are their family, without their normal traditions, or maybe even without their own kids. There is a chance that someone you know isn’t sure who they are supposed to be buying gifts for or who should be on their Christmas card this year. Just imagine how painful that is.
But they likely don’t feel that they can post about this. Maybe because they are protecting other people’s hearts. Or because they are worried about legalities. Or because they don’t want a friend of a friend to say that “it’s probably for the best” – or other comforting things that aren’t so comforting. Or because if they post memories or old pictures, people are going to gossip, and people are going to suggest that they need to move forward at a pace we don’t expect of people grieving other losses.
When I was growing up, well meaning people who believe divorce is too prevalent (and I agree that it is, but not for this reason) said things like “Divorces shouldn’t be so easy to get. That’s the problem these days – it’s just so easy.”
Let me assure you that no one who has actually experienced a divorce would ever say that.
Divorce was never the vision I had for my life and my family. I wish things had been different. However, I recognize that I am so fortunate, in some ways, in how my story has unfolded since then, in the strength of all of my relationships, and in the stability and outcomes we have carefully, painfully, and intentionally managed to create. This is not the norm for most families. I have a strong faith, the best friends, an incredible family, and open communication. But even with these things being true, divorce is still, by FAR, the most challenging thing I have ever experienced. I cannot begin to explain to you how difficult it is, on so many levels, even under the best worst circumstances.
It is so, so hard.
So please take a few minutes to reflect today. Maybe someone in your life isn’t “fine” right now. And maybe you didn’t realize how they are hurting because their pain isn’t socially acceptable to share on Facebook. Or maybe because they aren’t on social media at all, or because they needed a break from seeing all of the perfectly posed family pictures for a few months.
You can let them know that you see them – that their quiet pain is not invisible to you. You can say that you don’t know the full extent of what they are going through, but that you imagine it is difficult and painful, and that you care. You can remind them that they are doing a really good job of keeping all the plates spinning while working through some really hard things.
Who in your life is suffering this season in a way that will never be posted?
Please – love your friend who is sharing their hurt with you today.
But don’t forget to love the friend who isn’t. 💕
4 thoughts on “An Invisible Grief”
Thanks Mary Ann. Very well written thoughts. Appreciate your talent and ability.
Eloquent as always. VERY good reminder for sure. I know and understand that pain all too well. Thoughts with you as well through the holidays. Bless you for sharing your talents with us!
Thank you, Barb! I appreciate your encouragement! 🙂
Thank you, Lisa! I remember when Stacey gave me your phone number… Although I never called, it was comforting to know that I could and you would understand!