Finding Support on Twitter

Our thanks to Linda Wasyliw for sharing her story with us. Linda’s grief journey takes us to Twitter, where she has found support from strangers. The quotes in italics below are comments she has received along the way.

“It’s like the common cold. We all go through it, we react differently, and there is no cure.”

Support on Twitter

The theme of my year has been one of death, loss, grief, and learning how to swim through those waters the best that I can. When you haven’t gone through the death of a loved one, you discover that it is truly an eye-opening, confusing and an absolutely heart-wrenching experience.

Yet, you soon realize that it is also a very individualistic journey. What you feel, how you react, how you get through the day, what triggers those raw moments of grief – is unique to each person who is treading through this journey. In my journey, I struggle with the isolation of grief.

In late autumn, my mother was diagnosed with what seemed to be an operable cancer. The people in my life rallied around me and comforted me with wishes and words; it will be okay, she’ll be fine, this is a routine surgery.

Unfortunately, the operation didn’t go as well as planned. She stayed in the hospital throughout December, throughout Christmas, and through her birthday. An infection ensued and the cancer became aggressive. Five days into the New Year, I received the call from family. If I wanted to see my mother one last time and say goodbye, I better book a flight home now. Five days later and by her side, I saw her take her last breath and my whole world changed in that very moment.

In January, I lost my mother. Two weeks after her, my best friend’s father passed away. A few more weeks later saw the end of meaningful relationship – the amazing, loving person who was there for me during my mother’s illness and her death had to return home. My heart was, and still is, broken and tangled up in grief from the loss of these beautiful people who left far too soon.

During this time, I was gratefully surrounded by friends. There were many visits and calls, endless hugs, and a lot encouraging words to stay strong. I was touched by their support and positive thoughts but it seemed like a bit of a dream. I felt overwhelmed and didn’t have the time or space to think clearly, to grief clearly. I felt that, despite everyone’s support, no really understood how it felt to lose the person who gave birth to you, the person who was there since day one, other than those who have been through that journey themselves.

“All that love they had for us goes missing – very difficult to learn to live without it.”

Months later when the impact of death and loss was finally felt, I was drowning in silence. The visits and calls from friends stopped. The hugs were a little more infrequent. Encouraging words were heard a little less often.

I wanted my grief to be acknowledged and not awkwardly dismissed by silence or changed subjects. I wanted this unfamiliar kind of loneliness to go away. I wanted to feel the same kind of support that my mother always gave me, no matter what.

I needed understanding instead of surprise – the surprise that people haven’t been there for me when I needed them the most and reached out for them, that they didn’t think to reach out to me to see if I was okay. If it is one thing that I have discovered this year is that grief, for me, is a very isolating sensation that lingers.

“People say it gets better with time. I disagree – you get more used to it.”

Never experiencing this kind of loss before, I didn’t know if my thoughts and feelings were “normal.” I knew the five stages of grief and that was about it. No one ever mentioned how a part of your soul feels disconnected or that grief is like an animal waiting in the corner, never knowing if it will gently come to you with good memories or pounce on you when you least expect it to leave you in a mess.

I felt like a changed person, overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time, and with every emotion magnified. Grief has no expiration date. I’ve also learned, and it seemed like those around me simply couldn’t relate to this journey of mine, which is far from over. That leads to a deeper pain of isolation and resentment.

“Strength in many forms is within us.”

Despite reaching out to friends and going through grief therapy, I longed for further connection and understanding. On Twitter, I came across Hello Grief. I became lost in many articles on the website, sharing them to help others understand what I am going through.

I cried over stories of those who have lost loved ones but, more importantly for me, I didn’t feel alone in all of these feelings that made no sense. I wasn’t the only one who felt like they needed their grief to be acknowledged. I wasn’t the only one who felt dismissed by their friends who weren’t there for them during this horrible time. I wasn’t the only one with a shattered heart and a changed world.

These stories helped me feel less disconnected from others, giving me strength but also telling me that it is okay to be weak.

“You’ll grieve in your own way and at your own pace.”

During those nights that seemed harder than usual, I found myself on Twitter questioning the grief process or openly wondering if people felt a certain way like I did. At best, I would Tweet a simple message to confess that I missed my mom.

The support I have received through certain folks on Twitter have surprised me for all the right reasons. They shared their experiences and gave me kind words. They sent me strength when I was scared to take that flight home to say good bye. They reassured me that we all grieve differently. Best of all, they gave value to my feelings by acknowledging both my grief and my love for those I have lost.

They didn’t have to reach out, but they did nonetheless. Through their words, I see the grief process in a clearer light and I feel like someone out there understands this journey.

I have discovered is that everything I am feeling, though unique to me, is absolutely normal. And to feel normal and a little less alone in the chaos of death and loss is such a comforting feeling of relief. I have learned so much more about myself in the process of grief, thanks to the articles on Hello Grief and through the words of acquaintances on Twitter.

I am tremendously grateful for the strength of those who are able to reach out to strangers to share their journey. It is through their words that I see the grief process with acceptance and feel like someone out there understands. I can only hope that I too can reach someone with my words and comfort them through their journey. There is a soothing light in the darkness of grief when we can make others feel a little less alone it in.

“I find the only silver lining is to be able to let people new to loss know they aren’t alone and support them.”

4 Comments:

  1. bari said on October 31, 2013 at 1:20 pm ... #

    I so agree with you. Please also check out @interregnuminc as well as our Interregnum Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/InterregnumInc.Findinglifeafterloss.JudithPedersen?ref=hl.

    We try to help all going through grief of different varieities connect with each other.

    Also check out Meghan O’Rourke’s Memoir, The Long Goodbye.

  2. Tracy said on October 31, 2013 at 10:59 pm ... #

    Hi Linda, your story is so similar to mine, only I lost my dad to Pancreatic Cancer. I have often searched our articles, blogs, websites and other forums of emotional help and awareness, as most of my friends and even some family abandoned me in my times of grief. Many times I left comments or posted about the desolation and isolation that this brings. Many strangers that travelled this road did reach out in their own way and shared and supported me when many true friends did not. I applaud you for sharing your intimate story and sadness with all of us. I hope it serves as a reminder we are not alone. In some ways I think this grief cycle perpetuates; it is our time now to grieve and grief takes turns…. And most likely they, our friends will experience the depths of despair, and the isolation, as we all will have worked through the hardest part of the journey and trying to find our legs to rebuild from the devastation and will put our emotional energy into ourselves, and rightfully so…. It is a long journey, with no map or directions. They too will find their way, but the bridge of friendship might have been broken by then. Sending you big hugs and support. Your story is very poignant and heart felt. I’m sorry for the loss of your mom.

  3. Tracy said on October 31, 2013 at 11:20 pm ... #

    Hi Linda, thank you for sharing your personal and journey with us. I can relate to so much of what you wrote, our stories are similar in nature, though I lost my sweet dad. Many days and nights I spent researching topics on grief, blogs, websites in hopes of finding some solace and support for my desolation and isolation, as many of my friends and family abandoned me in the depths of my despair. I did find total strangers that have travelled this road reach out and offer support when I did feel pretty low… And yes the pain is still raw and there 1 year later. I do feel that the cycle of grief perpetuates; one year it is our turn to be shattered and next year it maybe one of our friends, as grief takes turns. They too will know the despair and isolation grief brings, and perhaps we will be on a different road rebuilding ourselves, focusing our energy just to be upright and being able to see. Unfortunately grief has no map or directions, bridges maybe have been burned and we may not choose to rebuild the same ones as before. They too will find their way when we are on our way carving out a new normal. A real shame, but believe grief does change your address book. Sending you hugs and loads of support from someone who does understand. Best~ Tracy

  4. Ilene said on May 18, 2014 at 3:45 pm ... #

    Thank for sharing this. I lost my loving Terry on March 22. While he was alive and fighting for his life family and friends were there with care and prayers. Once he was gone so were most of them including my own daughter.

    I received a lot of “you’re stronger than you think” and “it will get better”, yet for the real support it is like so many of them have run for the hills.

    It is as if the pain in my heart is a fatally contagious disease, that if you come too close to me you will catch it.

    Sometimes I feel like standing on the roof and shouting “grief has no time table; no set of rules. Grief just is. I still need your calls, your care and your love. I still need to feel safe in our relationship. I still need you not to disappear. I still hurt.”

    It is almost like being punished for feeling and it just adds more pain to the overload. Sometimes I feel like I am going crazy, that I should be stronger than the person curled up clutching his jacket so that I can still smell his scent.

    Yet, it is like Terry often told me, “should, could and would just doesn’t work”. Even in death he is right. What does work is getting even a bit of comfort from all the sadness.

    Again, thank you for the article and for all those that have written comments for you have shown me that I am not alone.

Leave a Comment

Your email is never shared.

*
*

By submitting a comment, you are agreeing to our Terms & Conditions.