“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”
~ Helen Keller
Last weekend I experienced this quote so profoundly. A group of us were getting together to celebrate my friend, Mary’s birthday. It was a surprise since she didn’t know we would show up to where she was having dinner.
Mary and I have been friends for years. We met at a company that we were both working for in 1984. We’ve remained friends ever since. Our friendship is solid, special and forever. It has always been a long-distance friendship since we have never lived close to each other except briefly when I was first married.
On Saturday evening, Vilma, another dear friend of mine, and I got together to take the ride to where Mary was having dinner. It was about 40 minutes away in Westchester County. I’m familiar with the area having working and lived there so I wasn’t worried about the drive.
I don’t use a GPS and I don’t have one in my car. I was talking to my brother, Mike earlier in the day and he suggested a driving app called “Waze” which he highly recommended. I downloaded the app as a precaution not intending to rely on it as I was confident my print out of directions would get me there.
The weather was uncooperative. As Vilma and I were just getting over the bridge, the heavens opened and a full-blown thunder storm came pouring down on us. Needless to say, traffic halted, visibility was horrible and what should have been an easy ride turned into an unnerving ride to meet our dear friend.
Hence today’s quote resonates with me completely. If you know anything about Westchester and going North, most of the roadways have no street lights. That in and of itself can be ominous. On Saturday, our drive to the restaurant was white knuckled.
We followed the printed directions and were going along nicely until we made a turn down one road which then said to follow straight to such and such street. As we were doing that, we come upon a fork in the road. Of course, our directions do not say which part of the fork to follow! I decide to follow one side and there we are driving and driving for what seems to be a road that just will not connect to where we need to go. I turn around and go back and we decide to take the other side of the fork. This road was even more ominous. A narrow road and dark as dark can be. I needed to put on the high beams. Again, we are traveling a road that just does not seem to end and we realize we are so far off course that the directions we have are a mess.
Since I was driving, Vilma takes her phone out, activates her Google directions and we get back on track. Thankfully, we arrived safely and the rest of the evening was wonderful. We were so glad to be together and celebrate Mary’s birthday. By the time we left the restaurant, the weather cleared and the ride home was clear and smooth!
How does my experience last weekend correlate with friendship and grief buddies? Well, what last Saturday made me realize is that so often, we think we must face everything alone. I think many of us find it easier to be the one asked to provide help instead of the one who asks for help. The truth of the matter is that we don’t have to go it alone. And, what I have come to know is that the feelings of gratitude that I have when someone asks for my help are the very same feelings that I deny someone when I don’t ask and allow myself to receive their help. Why do we do this?
When someone needs me for something, I am more than happy to help in any way that I can. Is that not the same way you feel? I know I get so much joy and satisfaction when someone I care about confides in me, trusts me to help and leans on me for strength.
Saturday evening, the entire time Vilma and I we were together in the car, we kept thanking each other and felt so grateful that we were together. Between the rain, the dark narrow roads, and our directions being off, the ride would not have been my favorite had I been by myself. In fact, it could have been very scary and dangerous. But there was comfort in being together and finding our way to end up having the nicest evening with our friends.
Friendship in grief is available too. Finding a grief buddie is not about wallowing in misery or as they say “misery loves company”. No, finding a grief buddie is about today’s quote, “walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”
Seeking out someone with a similar circumstance of grief can be so supportive in allowing both of you to share your feelings of grief in a safe place filled with trust and no judgement. Grieving with someone who expresses similar feelings that you have is confirmation of your humanness. You are not weird or so different that no one can understand. Grief is normal and your feelings are not right or wrong. Having a grief buddie is beneficial to both of you and when your feelings are expressed and validated, it is easier to prepare yourself for what is next, to open your heart for moving forward. And even then, you are not alone.
A grief buddie is a good thing. When two people can help, see their grief differently and guide themselves out of grief’s grip so they can find joy again, well friend, you will have found a new friend for life. And no matter where your lives may take you and if you don’t always stay in touch, every time you reconnect, there will always be an unspoken love in your heart for having helped each other through a sadness that you once thought you would never come out of.
Be a grief buddie, find a grief buddie and enjoy this new-found friendship. You won’t regret it.