One of the many lessons you learn in business is never to say, “I understand,” because you can’t. You can’t understand where someone is coming from unless it’s happened to you. While many of the grieving lament that people just can’t understand what we’re going through, the truth is WE DON’T WANT YOU TO.

As lonely as grief can be, we don’t want you to understand how awful it is. Because the only way you could possibly get it is to have gone through it yourself, and I wouldn’t wish that pain on my worst enemy.

When my friends, who lost their daughter a few years ago, told me they couldn’t understand what I was going through, I argued they were wrong. That they had been through the horribly wrong things that people say, the “friends” impatient for the old you to be back, the misery, the loss, the pain. Mike gently said no, there was no way they could ever understand. That while they mourned the loss of their daughter, she didn’t live with them. That while there was a huge void in their family, it was nothing like the constant void I now lived with: my empty bed, my now always clean bathroom counters, my suddenly clear schedule now that I wasn’t nursing my patient 24/7, the silence. 

I was still in shock over losing Dan, so I didn’t understand what he was saying. I do now. There is a reason W’s gravitate to each other. There is no need to explain or justify your feelings. We all, unfortunately, understand. It’s why our hearts stop, and we hold our breath when we hear one of you has joined this f#$%^$d up club. It’s why we reach out to you, despite knowing we can’t say or do anything that will make a difference. Except, maybe, to let you know that you aren’t alone.

So when we tell you that you just don’t understand, it’s okay. It’s good that you don’t understand. We hope you never understand. So don’t argue that you do. Don’t get defensive. Just say that we’re right, you don’t understand, but that you are here with us anyway because you care.


The Wandering Widow