Today I found myself in a singularly unique situation. I was having a conversation with two people who had just lost close family members this summer. In these situations I always want to say more than I do. Today was just too much. September 1, 1998 my father passed away. I was eight years old. In the realm of loss, you would think that I could be more of a comfort to my friends, but I know that I can't so I generally clam up.
Whenever someone I know, or barely know, experiences a loss, I feel the extreme need to comfort them. Maybe I'll feel better knowing that what happened to my dad can bring comfort to others. The truth is that loss is an extremely isolating thing. Your family is never the same, never treats you the same. My cousin who I grew up with has, I feel, not felt comfortable around me since my father died. I don't blame him... that isn't the point. People just don't know what to say. I want to convey this, verbalize it for once in my life, try and feel out how I'm feeling (how cheesy, I know, but maybe this will help me in the future).
No one knows the in's and out's of a personality like you do. You find some things funny with that person that no one else can. You have your own experience with that person. Trying to explain the feeling I had with my dad (and have never, by the way, felt with another person to this day), is like trying to describe the intricacies of a Monet to a blind person. There is deep color, beautiful texture; a certain emotion comes to mind when you think of his paintings that can't be verbalized. Such is personality after that personality is forever lost. No one can ever know that feeling no matter how many times they say "I'm sorry".
However I do feel the incessant need to comfort in that dumb way because "I'm sorry" is the only way to express that emotion.
Initially it isn't a reality. When you're eight years old (or 21 for that matter), the only "gone" you can imagine is the "gone" between the divorced parent visitation weekends. Years go by. I know some experience survivor's guilt. I never asked "why him and not me?", only "why him?" I can honestly say that question has taken my religion away from me several times. It's not fair. I can tell you at this point that it truly isn't fair.
Now I feel the need to comfort. As the years go on, people seek their own comfort in the idea that I look like him or act like him or have the same smile when I think of certain things. My friends will experience this facet of loss as well. I hope they know that it's just comforting.
In the end I'll always say "I'm sorry". I guess sometimes I don't even say that because I know for a fact that it's never enough. I can't know how she feels. I can't know how my friends feel after they lost their mother this summer. I'll never know how the boy I used to play with in elementary school felt when he lost his mother a few years back. Or how my grandparents felt when they buried one of their youngest 13 years ago.
Maybe this is too much. Too private to be public, you could say. This is me assuaging my guilt for never really sharing this experience with anyone who should know that you can heal, you'll just have an inexplicable scar forever. I'm not trying to correct any social niceties or to stop people from empathizing with others. I'm saying that I can't because I know it's impossible.