I’ve been thinking about grief and loss a lot lately. I’ve experienced a personal loss that hit me really hard, is still hitting me. And I’ve been watching the experiences of grief that are happening around Puerto Rico. It’s different to watch how people respond to grief from a distance.
For the most part, people have been incredibly great to me. The appropriate amount of support, the kindnesses that work in the situation. There are a few who aren’t great and try to do weird things, but that’s kind of to be expected. It’s never perfect. I just hope for those with the most intimacy and power to be kind.
I want my boss to be understanding when I need time off or if I seem a little out of sorts or not quite up to my normal level. (And they have been absolutely.) I want the people I own things to (like responses, episodes, and the like) to be understanding if I don’t get things to them as quick as I’d like (or they would).
Those are the people in my life with the most power right now.
This is sort of a two fold thing. The people who are close to me but not close to the person who passed, I fully expect them to be supportive of me. I think that’s a reasonable expectation. They are not experiencing the grief of that loss and they are more likely to have the capacity to be supportive. This for me includes relatives on the other side of the family and close friends.
But this also means that I should be doing what I can to support those who are closer, doing what I can to offer those things up to those who are closer to that circle of grief. And certainly different people handle it differently. But in general I’m going to turn out and away from the people who are most impacted for my own comfort and support and I am going to try to turn in to offer comfort and support. Reach out to the people who need love, comfort, and assistance.
It really helps to have these rules and know (and have thought through them) ahead of time and know who are the people who are usually there for me? Who can I ask for support from? Who will support me? Then on the other side…who will need support? And then there is an element of do I need to provide it to that person if I can’t. (Sometimes I don’t have the capacity to handle that for some people and while I wish they had what they needed, I can’t be the person to do that.) Even beyond that making sure that I am doing the right things so that I am offering the kinds of support others need so when I need it they are willing to be there for me.
It makes me sad when individuals can’t follow these fairly basic guidelines. And it makes me furious when the person with the most power won’t be as kind as my bosses. They weren’t extraordinary generous. But they were very simply kind. Why can’t the president be simply kind? And why the fuck aren’t we demanding simple human kindness of the goddamn president of the goddamn united fucking states.
So to all of you who have been personally impacted by this incredible hurricane season in Texas and Florida as you clean up and try to get back to your lives, and especially to Puerto Rico still in the middle of trying to get back to existing in a way where basic survival is possible…You have my deepest sympathy. My heart is with you. (My calls to my senators are with you, the money I can is with you.) If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.
To those of you struggling like me through your own personal grief and loss of people you love, jobs you aren’t sure you can replace, homes you can’t, and more…ask for what you need. You can absolutely ask for help from those around you and if they are decent and they have the capacity they will. Never assume someone can’t help unless they tell you that they can’t.
To all the rest. Please, do some work. Offer some support. Money, calls, reminding coworkers that yes Puerto Ricans are American and HELL YES they need help and they need it now and anything, anything less than the most generous, thoughtful, and kind support is not enough.