In Grieving, A Trusted Friend Who Won’t “Fix” You is a Blessing

Grieving is never easy, it helped to have a trusted friend who didn’t want to “fix” me. I use the first letter of her name, M, in Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again. M didn’t cuddle me or hold back when I needed “tough love.” She perfectly mixed tough love and compassion into a healing mix. Here is an excerpt of an exchange between M and me in the early stages of my grieving:

“I sat across from M and said, “Thanks for the coffee, M.” My words came without emotion.

“Talk to me.” That’s all she said.

I inhaled a deep breath. I remained silent for a moment. I wanted to tell M how I really felt. I wanted to swear, but held it in. I can swear as easily as I breathe. Babe would have told you that I don’t swear in public or at people. I reserve my swear words for situations in which no other words could be used as descriptions. I wanted to let go with my best swears, honed over time. I knew they would flow as smoothly as a Mozart concerto. They were the only words to describe how I felt.

Instead, I held back and said, “I hurt like hell, M. Honestly, I can’t concentrate. Normally, I can juggle seven or eight things at a time. It’s now difficult juggling even one.”

“You’re normal,” she said.

“This is normal? I feel like …” I caught myself before finishing.

“No, it is not normal in the way most people you know experience normal.” M replied. “It’s normal when grief strikes. It strikes like a rattlesnake: quick, painful, and intense, releasing its poisonous venom into you. Life is different, Ray. Whatever way you experienced life as before, that’s over. You can’t have it back.”

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Excerpt From: Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again by Ray Calabrese. This material is protected by copyright

Excerpt From

Dancing Alone

Raymond Calabrese

This material may be protected by copyright.

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Nothing But Stone – by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Nothing But Stone

I think I never passed so sad an hour,
   Dear friend, as that one at the church to-night.
The edifice from basement to the tower
   Was one resplendent blaze of coloured light.
Up through broad aisles the stylish crowd was thronging,
   Each richly robed like some king’s bidden guest.
“Here will I bring my sorrow and my longing,”
   I said, “and here find rest.”

I heard the heavenly organ’s voice of thunder,
   It seemed to give me infinite relief.
I wept.  Strange eyes looked on in well-bred wonder.
   I dried my tears: their gaze profaned my grief.
Wrapt in the costly furs, and silks, and laces,
   Beat alien hearts, that had no part with me.
I could not read, in all those proud cold faces,
   One thought of sympathy.

I watched them bowing and devoutly kneeling,
   Heard their responses like sweet waters roll
But only the glorious organ’s sacred pealing
   Seemed gushing from a full and fervent soul.
I listened to the man of holy calling,
   He spoke of creeds, and hailed his own as best;
Of man’s corruption and of Adam’s-falling,
   But naught that gave me rest:

Nothing that helped me bear the daily grinding
   Of soul with body, heart with heated brain;
Nothing to show the purpose of this blinding
   And sometimes overwhelming sense of pain.
And then, dear friend, I thought of thee, so lowly,
   So unassuming, and so gently kind,
And lo! a peace, a calm serene and holy,
   Settled upon my mind.

Ah, friend, my friend! one true heart, fond and tender,
   That understands our troubles and our needs,
Brings us more near to God than all the splendour
   And pomp of seeming worship and vain creeds.
One glance of thy dear eyes so full of feeling,
   Doth bring me closer to the Infinite
Than all that throng of worldly people kneeling
   In blaze of gorgeous light.

Friendship ~ Poem by Gibran

Friendship 

I think a while of Love, and while I think,
Love is to me a world,
Sole meat and sweetest drink,
And close connecting link
Tween heaven and earth.

I only know it is, not how or why,
My greatest happiness;
However hard I try,
Not if I were to die,
Can I explain.

I fain would ask my friend how it can be,
But when the time arrives,
Then Love is more lovely
Than anything to me,
And so I’m dumb.

For if the truth were known, Love cannot speak,
But only thinks and does;
Though surely out ’twill leak
Without the help of Greek,
Or any tongue.

A man may love the truth and practise it,
Beauty he may admire,
And goodness not omit,
As much as may befit
To reverence.

But only when these three together meet,
As they always incline,
And make one soul the seat,
And favorite retreat,
Of loveliness;

When under kindred shape, like loves and hates
And a kindred nature,
Proclaim us to be mates,
Exposed to equal fates
Eternally;

And each may other help, and service do,
Drawing Love’s bands more tight,
Service he ne’er shall rue
While one and one make two,
And two are one;

In such case only doth man fully prove
Fully as man can do,
What power there is in Love
His inmost soul to move
Resistlessly.

by Khalil Gibran

Friendship ~ Quote by Camus

Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.
Just walk beside me and be my friend

– Albert Camus

Today’s Quote on Friendship

A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strenghs; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities.

William Arthur Ward

Today’s Quote by Robert Louis Stevenson on Friendship and Love

“So long as we love we serve; so long as we are loved by others I would almost say that we are indispensable; and no man is useless while he has a friend.”  Robert Louis Stevenson

 

A Mile With Me ~ Poem by Victor Hugo

  O who will walk a mile with me
       Along life's merry way?
     A comrade blithe and full of glee,
     Who dares to laugh out loud and free,
     And let his frolic fancy play,
     Like a happy child, through the flowers gay
     That fill the field and fringe the way
       Where he walks a mile with me.

     And who will walk a mile with me
       Along life's weary way?
     A friend whose heart has eyes to see
     The stars shine out o'er the darkening lea,
     And the quiet rest at the end o' the day,—
     A friend who knows, and dares to say,
     The brave, sweet words that cheer the way
       Where he walks a mile with me.

     With such a comrade, such a friend,
     I fain would walk till journeys end,
     Through summer sunshine, winter rain,
     And then?—Farewell, we shall meet again!