We don’t properly realize how things roll until they stop rolling that way…at least for a minute, at least long enough for us to gain perspective. I mean that in the simplest way possible. I never realized that most women’s washrooms were on the left until I accidentally walked into a poorly placed men’s washroom—twice. I didn’t know that my fingers automatically typed names of past friends (okay, more-than-friends) upon the first couple keystrokes, until I stopped needing to type those names. And who can blame me for thinking everyone everywhere would know what poutine is, or have the lyrics to “If I Had A Million Dollars” memorized?
(PS. Non-Canadian readers: You should probably Google those cultural gems.)
My current life rolls along relatively untouched by too-soon death, something I didn’t really consider until these “Death & Grieving” articles came along. I shouldn’t be so surprised that reading all the articles made me feel so…aware. I also shouldn’t be so surprised that this awareness felt new.
But I was surprised. Caitlin Corbett (of “On Grieving”) and Niki Dignard (of “I am a Suicide Survivor”) are two of my go-to girls in Ottawa. Caitlin and a glass of wine. Niki and a new restaurant. We talk a lot, and we laugh a lot. Sometimes their losses come up, and we talk about those.
So, how could I not know? I mean really, really know what they had gone through. And what they were still going through.
Until they wrote it down, I’ll admit that I really didn’t.
The stories in the Taboo Tab hold a truth for everyone. For some, that truth is “Wow, I’m not alone.” For others (and for me) that truth is simply: “Wow, there are people around me going through this stuff right now. [Insert prayers, love, and increased social consciousness here].”
Either way, we get to be aware of one another. Awareness is a communicative art, one that we need to constantly work at. Why? Because awareness is AWESOME.
In my view, there should be two kinds of people present with any social issue you want to address: The storytellers, who have experienced an issue firsthand (aka the people who Know), and those who try to understand the stories (aka the people who Listen).
When it comes to loss, Caitlin and Niki are people who Know–and when things get rough, people who Know are the best.
Usually, when I talk about my own pain, I wind up trying to convince people that it’s actually really hilarious and I’m really, really “over it.” These people who Know see right through that.
People who Know: The survivors, the brokenhearted, the vulnerable. The ones willing to let you be vulnerable right alongside them. The ones also willing to put you in your place, quietly reminding you of the could-be-worse. They are more honest. Less judge-y. Keeping it real, because at this point, that’s really all they can do. And aware. So, so, so aware.
Me: “I have this loss. I have these feelings. I’m going to laugh/cry/be sick in front of you now, okay?”
People who Know: “LOSS? YES. Yes, that is horrible. I Know. Chocolate? Hug? Awkwardly timed joke?”
They Know. They can comfort and relate to others who Know. And by sharing their stories, they can help turn people who don’t Know into people who Listen…maybe, even people who Understand.
If the people who Know speak up, and if we let them–if we listen (unselectively), we share, and we try, try, try to “get it,” then we’ll know enough to build compassion and community. We will gain perspective. We will realize truths.
And that is the Truth about Awareness. It is how we move forward together. Awareness is how we learn how to love each other better. And forgive each other better.
Read enough stories, meet enough people, ask enough questions, and realize: We’re all so different. But we’re all so, so, so the same.
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