Grief makes me feel as if I am naked emotionally. In the early days it was hard to go out into the world because I felt as if I was one raw, exposed nerve end. I remember driving down a city street, one I’d driven a thousand times before, feeling overwhelmed at the sight of life continuing on as if nothing had happened.
I remember the first time I went to the grocery store after Arthur died. I was so vulnerable, so tender, I had trouble with the basics of negotiating the transaction. Surely, I thought, the clerk will notice. But from the woman’s actions it appeared that she was completely oblivious to my broken heart.
This was astounding. It felt so obvious to me, so unmistakable. I looked around me at the other people in the store, and thought: if she can’t see my sorrow, what sorrows am I missing in these people all around me?
The truth is we all have sorrows of some sort—maybe not the death of a beloved spouse, but the failure to achieve our passion, or the pain of being misunderstood, or the loneliness of being socially awkward, or the anguish of feeling inadequate—all of us have something.
My sorrow is helping me to be gentler with the people I interact with, because I see that they’re hurting too.