Over the course of two weeks, my husband lost his best friend, my recently widowed "uncle" lost his brother-in-law (roommate) and his own brother (two days apart), and my first friend in life lost his wife (having just lost his mother this past April).
All but one of these deaths were completely unexpected.
The first part of the summer was kind of fun. Since late February I'd devoted myself to cheering my Uncle Al up, and we spent a lot of time going places he liked to go and doing things he liked to do but hadn't been able to during his wife's prolonged illness. We were making a lot of progress, too. Lots of laughs, and I'd pat myself on the back for my ability to bring hope and happiness to the bereaved...
But then came the onslaught... and whatever trick I had up my sleeve to cheer people up and make their lives happier became just that, an illusion with no basis in reality when confronted with heartbroken people whose only hope is that they themselves have enough time left for time to heal. It turns out I am impotent in the face of bereavement... all of the strawberry shortcake and chocolate in the world can't bring even momentary peace of mind to somebody who's drowning in sorrow. In fact it can have the opposite effect... the "Morel Effect," I call it, in honor of a springtime four years ago when well-meaning people showered me with my beloved morel mushrooms in hopes of providing a momentary escape from my own sorrow. I don't even like seeing pictures of morel mushrooms now.
Tomorrow I'll go to the cemetery like I do every July 23, and "celebrate" the birthday of a kid I loved dearly, who would be 27 that day except that he died when he was 22. Strangely, this annual family gathering will probably be a rather happy event... we always have a lot of laughs and catch up on each others' lives and gossip about the people who don't show up... Maybe I'll be able to take something away from celebrating my nephew's birthday, and especially his life, that will help me somehow to help some of these other people... my nearest and dearest who, in the middle of summer, can barely see the light of day.