My Mom had cancer twice. The first time was my senior year of high school and the second was a few months after I graduated college. When she had it the second time, I pretty much shut myself off from my friends. During the week I worked, and then I tried to go visit her and my family on weekends. My life narrowed down to my family and my boyfriend (who is now my husband.) It was such a struggle to get through some days, while others were not too bad. I just didn't want to burden my friends, who I knew wouldn't understand. I didn't want to make them feel awkward and try to think of something to say.
When we lost Mom after a ten month battle, none of that changed. I still kept friends at a distance as I grieved. It felt like only my family understood what I was going through. I was too tired and sad to do anything else. Should I have behaved differently?
In the years since this happened, I have learned so much. One is that we all grieve in different ways. My family and I went through the same loss, but because of our personalities and past experiences, none of us went through it the same.
Another thing I have learned is that a friend's presence can be as comforting as any words or actions. My friends may not have been able to find magic words to take away my pain, but I could have given them the chance to sit with me in my sadness. I didn't have to feel so alone. They may have wanted to help me, and I denied them that chance.
Honestly, I don't know if I would change things if I had this knowledge back then. I may still not want to put them on the spot. But I do hope I would have been more open about it. No one should go through loss alone (or feeling alone.) If you are going through something hard and don't want to bring your friends down, please reach out to someone. Even me. I may not know exactly how you feel, but I am here!