Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Glass Wall

So I was chatting away with (okay, kind of babbling to) our pastor this morning and we were talking about how isolating it can be going through something this difficult in your life (grief, loss, illness, etc).

As a general rule, humans avoid pain at all costs. And often times, the people closest to you will avoid you because of it (FYI you can't catch widow).

He asked me if I've felt isolated because of it. Separate from other people in my life.

And then this image pops into my head.

It's like being one one side of a glass wall and everyone else you know is on the other side. And the glass is half-frosted and smudgy and you can't quite see through it. It's all hazy on your side and you can just see the shapes of the people on the other side, their outlines, that they are milling about in a large crowd.

And you are shouting as loudly as you can for them to look at you, to see you, to understand you. You are trying to make them notice you and hear what you are saying, to understand what it is you are going through and how profound and life changing it is. You can't help but wonder to yourself, why can't they hear me? Why aren't they looking up? I have had this enormous thing happend in my life, that is all-consuming, and now see the entire world in a whole new light. How can they not as well?

But the glass is soundproof.

And difficult to see through.

And they haven't even noticed you shouting, all this time.

So they don't even look up.

And then you realize, there is no way to make them understand. No matter how eloquent your words, how clever your analogies, how carefully you explain it... they simply cannot cross over to your side and understand until they have experienced this kind of pain and loss firsthand.

It is very lonely on the other side of that wall.

It's just you, alone in your thoughts. Your life is changed forever and you want desperately to bring everyone with you but it is a journey you must make alone.

And then out of the nowhere, someone else pops onto your side of the glass. Sometimes for just a few minutes, sometimes someone you don't even know. But they are there. And for just that little blessed while, they get it. They understand the hurt. They are hurting too.

I have been very fortunate to have a few people on my side of the wall. A friend from 8 years ago who lost his son and mother, who understood what hurt really is. He was only here for a couple months, but having someone who finally got it made all the difference in the world.

And today my pastor, going through his own heartache, truly understood and stood on my side of the glass with me.

I hate that they have to hurt so much to understand.

But I am just so grateful to have that person there with me, even if it's only for a short while.


  1. Isn't it strange how unless you do go through the same situations you try everything in your power through words, stories and comparison to try and find common ground, partial relation or some experience in your own matter how much you go through the memories in your brain and the people you know and their stories--it's impossible to even imagine the pain someone goes through when they lose their spouse. I went back over the conversation we had the other day and realized I thought I could momentarily identify with the terrible sleep deprivation where someone needs to remind you to shower, get groceries, eat etc.... after having a baby it's exactly that but then I realized that only happened to me for a couple weeks and it was over.Not to mention for entirely different reason's-- Than I thought to myself--she's done it everyday for the last 7 and 1/2 months and it really isn't the same at all. I believe the intention in mentioning it in the first place was to desperately try to understand exactly the pain you feel everyday--but no matter what "comfort" I think up or remember or whatever words I came up with no matter how good of intentions I had in the moment. It only seems to minimize the pain you have experienced since Craig passed away..........I get what you were saying the other day now about not understanding--I'm not ok with it but it's the truth I don't understand the pain you feel and the crippling affects it has on your every day life. I'm just glad you are willing to share it with me and others and I will do my best to listen to you cause I've discovered listening is the only way I can really partially "get it" or be on the same side of the glass as you just for a little while. I want to be there for you when you need me in any way that I can and if listening is what I can do than I'm here and you have me for that.
    Love you sister!

  2. Unfortunately, Emily, I stand on your side of the glass. My husband also died 7 months ago . . .

    Jason was 39 years old and died of Brain Cancer. I reside in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia with our beautiful 5 year old daughter. And in spite of the busyness of our lives, my heart aches most minutes of most days . . .

    I feel the same way -- as if I am screaming and nobody can hear me. I appreciate your eloquent words. Your blog means a lot to me. I need to connect to young widows and your blog allows me to do just that. Thank You from the bottom of my heart. God Bless You.

  3. Thank you, Angela. I'm so sorry you have to go through this as well but I'm so glad my blog can help in some small way. If you ever want to talk, you can email me at

  4. I had a thought while reading about the glass wall. . .
    There are those who love you and seek your face around the crowd. . . they find the glass wall with you on the other side, they beckon you over, but there is no way through. They stand at the wall and try to communicate and some time the messages get through and sometimes are lost through the smudge and frost. Both sides can explain a little what they want to say but that wall is there. . . then they have to go back and find others that they seek. . . they come back to the wall often. For me the glass is clearer than some and I can hear some through it. I have been down a road of suffering and loss. When I stand at the glass was there is not as many smudges to my eyes and the glass not so thick that no sound can come through. . . we can talk and grieve together for a while. There are times that the glass is so clear and so thin I feel as though I am standing on the other side with you. We can even embrace! I seek these moments so we can share and grieve and I can understand as much as I am able.
    I know this glass wall well, I have my own. Not at thick and not as frosted, others I know dearly are on the same side of my glass wall. We share the wall, and the grief and on this side it is not so lonely, not so dark.

    Find those who are on the same side of your glass wall, and there you can embrace them, grieve with them, and maybe in some small way help each other to heal just a little at a time. There are more people seeking your face in the crowd then you may realize.

    I love you!

  5. I have been thinking a lot about the glass wall. I realize there are some who want to come to my side and sit with me, and I don't let them . . .

    I love this analogy so much. I would love to print it out and bring it to my Grief Group if that's OK with you? The reason the group means so much to me is that we all stand on the same sid of the Glass Wall.

  6. Means so much to me. I am touched by you sending us this kind of blog.