The difference in grief

Eight years ago today, my dear friend Joe passed away. And next Sunday will mark the sixth anniversary of my beloved husband, Paul’s, death. And I am very aware of how different my emotions are for each death; for each set of memories.

Six years ago today, I came home and cried to my husband about how sad I was that my friend had been gone for two years. I was sad that I wasn’t more upset, as I felt I should be crying. But I was pleased that my memories of Joe brought me so much laughter. (Well, after the first six months anyhow, which were filled with mostly tears and restless sleep.)

I also cried to Paul about Joe’s partner who was surely missing him more than words could ever express. And that then led to a conversation about “moving on” should tragedy strike our own happy home.

Little was I to know that a week later I would be experiencing the same devastating blow that Joe’s partner experienced two years’ prior.

And little did I know that the tears and restless nights would stretch far, far beyond six months.

I find it strange (yet oddly understandable) that I rarely cry when thinking about Joe these days; and mostly laugh on his birthday and the anniversary of his death when my experiences with thoughts of Paul are so different.

When I think of Paul, I often find myself misty eyed (not always, not even most of the time, but often). And on Paul’s birthday and even more so on the anniversary of his death, I am beside myself with grief and even find myself crying quite a bit in the lead-up to these upsetting dates.

I no longer actively grieve for Joe, despite thinking of him often and missing him very much. Sure, I wish that Joe was here, playing an active role in my life, but his absence doesn’t impact my day-to-day life.

But I grieve for Paul. And I miss Paul desperately. And I’m lonely without him. Paul’s absence does impact my life, and it impacts it nearly every day.

Joe was a part of my life. Paul was my life.

Joe touched my heart. Paul opened my heart.

Joe made my soul happy. Paul made my soul sing with joy.

I loved Joe. I was in love with Paul. (And love him still.)

The simple fact is that my relationship with Paul—though much shorter than my friendship with Joe—was deeper and more meaningful than any relationship I’ve ever had.

Because marital love is different from friendship. Losing a spouse is different than losing a friend. For me, at least.

I miss Joe. And I am very aware that if Paul were here, I’d have an easier time missing my friend. And I also know that if Joe was here, he would have helped me cope with the loss of Paul.

I could really use one of them in my life right now. Though I’d rather have both!

I don’t really know what the point of this post is, other than to say that I’ve really been noticing the difference between how I grieve for different people in my life.

And, of course, to say that I miss Joe. I really do. He was a good friend—despite him and the rest of “the guys” tormenting the heck out of me! I was very blessed to have him in my life.

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