Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist

Friend Grief Overload

sadness_by_joimFor the past month, I’ve been – like many of you reading this – in a near-constant depression. Maybe not a clinical depression, but a feeling of almost unending sadness.

It started with the slaughter at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. It wasn't just shocking. I was disturbed by my reaction. I wasn’t alone. Many people – in and out of the LGBT community – were devastated by the horror inflicted on people out for a fun Saturday night.

But it didn’t stop there: Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and the sniper in Dallas. Those weren’t the only shootings. I live in Chicago and almost every news broadcast opens with a tally of the previous day’s gun violence. But I’m not here to talk about guns. There were bombings and plane crashes and car accidents. The bad news feels constant.

These are the events that get the attention of a nation, and deservedly so. The victims – strangers to most of us – deserve to be remembered. But what of the others, the ones whose deaths don’t make the nightly news?

Tomorrow I’m going to a wake and service for a man I first met seventeen years ago when our daughters were in kindergarten. His death wasn’t a shock, though he’s younger than I am. But the news almost pushed me over the edge.

Right now there are people glued to their TV’s trying to make sense of all the recent violence. There are people like me, doing their best to avoid watching one more minute. And there are people out there who are dealing with friend grief on a much more personal level,

Some of them lost friends in the well-publicized tragedies. Most lost friends whose picture will not be in the paper. There will be no public memorials for them. The president won’t speak at their funeral. But their grief is every bit as important, every bit as real, every bit as bottomless.

What can we do? About the larger issue of violence in our society…I have no clue. But we can help those who have lost friends: in very public and very private circumstances. We can be there for them: to listen, to hug, to be present. And if we’re the ones who have lost a friend, we can summon every ounce of strength and ask for help.

We all need help, especially when we grieve. Don’t try to do this alone. Now is the time to hold our friends close to us: as much as we can, as long as we can. And let them do the same for us.