On the fringe of personal tragedy. That’s where I’ve spent my week. My boss’s son took his own life last weekend and while it was not my personal loss I stood amidst the wreckage. Like a barely-acquainted neighbor down the street whose house remained intact following the destruction of a tornado. Those in its path lose everything. You escape. I was involved but not a part. It was an up close personal observation of tragedy and it seemed like an invasion to be privy to it.
I had only met the son on one occasion. I work every day with the father. I’d known from a distance there was heartbreak and sorrow in the family before the death. Again, knew from afar. Not a part.
I spent the week doing those activities that one close but removed does. Helpful things. Notifications mostly. Letting others somewhat removed from the fray know of the passing. Finding euphemisms for death. Sharing the dates and times of arrangements and services. A reluctant reporter from the scene. Numb from the repetition.
All week I’ve balanced assistance and intrusion. Empathy and distance. Feeling weary from ineptitude.
It became my mission to comfort those further out from the inner circle. Folks that knew the family but perhaps, like me, not well. We were all close enough to feel the shockwaves but not the impact.
I’m determined to learn from my experiences this week. To take some something from such sadness. Maybe it’s a lesson we all know already. So little can be done to comfort anyone at such times of unspeakable grief.
Maybe we just do a better job of loving one another before.