Grief and the second circle

Over the last few years I have been through a few deaths – not of my nearest and dearest, but of the second, or even third circle of people you know. An aunt by marriage who I never really knew well, a colleague I had worked closely with from time to time but seen irregularly, an old family friend who I hadn’t seen for year, a friend who I would talk to at parties and connect with on social media but not invite out alone…

When these deaths happen one feels grief and sadness, but it is odd and can be mixed with other feelings? Am I being self indulgent? Do I really *deserve* to mourn these people. It is made more complicated because in many of these cases there are people close to me who were closer to the person who died, who have a deeper connection, a greater grief. I often avoid mentioning these deaths directly on social media, because the compassion from friends you receive sometimes makes me feel like an imposter, taking the attention from those who probably deserve it more. As if compassion is finite.

But these deaths do impact on me. Sometimes it is the grief of others – watching the sadness and grief of those you care deeply about is a great multiplier of grief. Sometimes it is regret – regret that you didn’t have that chance to get to know that person better or learn more from them. Sometimes it is guilt – that you didn’t take the chance to spend that time, so say that thing. Sometimes it is shock – the method of death, the suddenness, the sense that the world is less ordered than you think. Sometimes it is the sense of mortality – yes I may die, or anyone may die, sooner than you think or expect or hope. Sometimes it is the sadness for the loss of what could have been. And sometimes it is a realisation that no matter how small a detail that person may have been on the tapestry of your life, that detail is forever gone and your life is changed, no matter how minutely.

I think I need to let myself feel what I am feeling and recognide the need to mourn, that whatever I am feeling is the appropriate way for me to feel. That death matters and we all need room to process it, no matter how close we were or weren’t to the person we are mourning.