The difficulty of communicating

Human communication is so hard.  Kindness can be misinterpreted as pity.  Sorrow interpreted as anger.  Exhaustion interpreted as laziness.  Unless we are in the head of the person we are communicating with, we never know how our communication comes across or what they actually mean.

I had a pregnant employee a few years ago who came to an event to work and complained the whole day about how tired and uncomfortable she was - being pregnant and in the sun all day.  Before the banquet dinner at the end of the day, I told her that she could take off if she wanted.  100% - I felt I was being kind.  I meant to empathize with her and let her go home early to her husband and child.  She didn't talk to me for weeks after this event.  I heard through the grapevine that she was pissed that I made her stay for the whole day and then sent her home before the fun dinner began.  I've never seen the dinner part of that event as fun - it always feels like work to me.  I think this is just a good example of human communication gone awry.

One of the hardest things about grief is being in it with other people.  On the one hand, its a comfort - to know that other people are missing the one you love as much as you are.  On the other hand, and from a more selfish perspective, it complicates your experience of grief.  If you are a person who needs constant distraction to get through grief, it can be very hard for someone who needs to go inside themself to be around you.  You might be someone who needs distraction one day and the next day needs to be alone and quiet.  That is where everyone in my family seems to be right now.  It is impossible for any of us to predict how we are going to feel on any particular day.  It can be incredibly challenging and sometimes just add another layer to the complicated grief.

Relationships have been incredibly challenging since we lost Maxie. Nobody has dealt with his loss in the same way.  Some people mourned in the hospital and then put it away.  Some people didn't start to experience the gut wrenching, sick, horror grief until weeks or months later.  Some are just beginning to feel it now.  Some may never mourn - either they didn't feel that close bond with Max or they just aren't going to let themselves go there.  We are not on the same time schedule, which makes life now as challenging as ever.  You never know how you are going to feel or how someone else is going to feel or how you will interact in any particular moment.  You want to be sensitive to other people's feeling but hope that they can also be sensitive to yours.  So - you mostly just have to fake it all of the time.   Nobody really wants to deal with your pain - because they have their own - or they are just over it already.  Grief is super selfish.  It just is.  I've seen the most selfish sides of everyone I love in the past (almost) two years.  They've seen those sides of me too.  It sucks.

I am wondering if we will ever get to a point where we can actually all communicate again.  Maybe when the pain lessens somewhat, we can be more sensitive with each other.  Maybe faking it is just the way we will all live moving forward.  I think I am fine with that...I let very few people in anymore and I am careful with those that I do.  I can't overwhelm them with what I am going through so I sort of mention it and then deal with it alone afterwards.  I think this is just how life is after a traumatic loss.

1 comment

Tiffany said...

that's the way it is for me too. i try to stay superficial with most people. and avoid many topics of conversation (especially those dealing with kids, family) when i can.