Disclaimer: I am not a grief counsellor, and as always, I am speaking from my own thoughts and experience so please do not take my words for the holy truth.
Hey reader! How lovely to see you here!
I hope you are well and not feeling too overwhelmed these days.
With everything going on at the moment – hashtagpandemic – I thought I would do a post on the five main things I heard throughout my short time grieving and my thoughts on them. Now more than ever, people have to face the harsh reality of the end of life surrounding them, even though it’s always and has always been the case. This pandemic is forcing us to live uncomfortably in the face of death and now more than ever is a time for people to learn how to approach grieving people in their circle.
While I do understand these all come from a good place – at least so they should, I have also come to realize how much people don’t know when it comes to addressing a grieving person, especially in times of untimely deaths. It might also turns out, the people who mean the best, end up being the people who hurt you even more. I was one of those before I am sure.
If you have gone through a recent loss and are facing difficulty expressing what you don’t want to hear, or what you would rather hear, feel free to refer this post to whomever you feel would benefit from this.
But if there is one truth about grieving, is that there are as many grieving ways as there are relationships between two people. Please, if you have gone or are going through grief currently and do not agree with me, I fully respect your views; like any other post on my blog, these are purely my views, ideas and conclusions written in the hope they might find someone to help one day.
Here we go:
“You will get used to it”
“How do you know?”– I get what the purpose of this sentence is, and it is true that bad times don’t last forever. However, I don’t believe you can ever get USED TO living without someone close to your heart. The definition itself of “used to”says it all: “familiar with something so it seems normal or usual”or “a situation which existed in the past but does not exist now”. I can confidently say that nothing is normal or usual about losing someone; and that sadly the situation doesn’t change over time. I understand the idea behind this sentence, and I am sure that most of the people grieving have heard it at least once. What I don’t like about this is the feeling it gives me of almost undermining my own grief and emotions. I believe a better way of saying this would maybe be: “You will learn to live with this grief”. Because as long as you will carry on loving your “lost” one, your grief will be a part of you, like a new companion for life, more present some days than others but always in your shadow.
“He wouldn’t want to see you cry”
Just like the previous one, I feel like this sentence somehow discredits my feelings for the ease of the person speaking it. I can fully understand how disheartening or uncomfortable it might be to see someone you care about ball their eyes out, and you looking for a way to make them feel better. However, grief is unpredictable and the only way –in my humble opinion- is to welcome the emotions, feel them and then move along with this grief to the next part. Times are hard enough for you not to have to feel like you cannot fully live out your own authentic emotions. So cry my friends if that’s what you need, or laugh, dance, speak, don’t speak, don’t stop or do nothing but be you and listen to yourself; this is the only thing your lost one would want. And to you reader who might not know what to say to your friend instead, just let them know you’re here and encourage them to deal with it the way they want: “Just know I am here for anything if you need me” is an option.
“So, what’s next now?”
If you’re not aware of my story, I had the “audacity” –at least some people see it that way- and the chanceto put my life to the side and stop my career to care for my dad for a year and a half before he passed away. This is a decision I fully take responsibility of, and the only reason why I am able to say I have no regrets. This part of my life, as hard as it was, meant everything to me and gave me a purpose stronger than anything. I don’t think I would be half the person I am today, if I hadn’t taken this decision in the first place.
But as most funerals go, this is the time when you get to see long lost family members, your weird aunt and the daughter of the cousin of your dad, with whom you might happen to share some blood DNA. And funny enough, right at the wake, after the church ceremony, or any time before the grieving person deems acceptable to talk about it, might not be the perfect moment to ask about future plans. Please bear in mind, the future the grieving person had pictured all his/her life just became impossible. There are no future plans at that moment. To be honest, there isn’t really any future, past or present in that moment. Just a big fat “?”. If you’re looking for something to say, and you knew the person who left, maybe just share some stories? But always ask permission before: “Would you like me to share a few stories about … with you?”.
These two words are probably the ones making my blood boil the most. I don’t believe any grieving person is not being strong if they are still living. Chances are they are showing up to the funeral or to their lives’obligations but somehow not quite how you’d like them to: Are they crying? Are they not quite present? Are they not dressed appropriately? Whatever the reason, I believe this person is being strong in their own way. If anything, what someone grieving needs is reassurance that it’s ok to NOT BE STRONG. It’s ok to be a mess for a while, and it’s ok to live out your pain however they believe will help them heal. I do believe the only thing that might need to get called out is if the grieving becomes somewhat mean or cruel whilst dealing with the grief.
“It’s better this way”
“How is this better?” – I do understand the context in which you would want to say those words and yes maybe the person was suffering a great deal for example. However, I don’t believe that if you are grieving someone and believe their death was somewhat untimely, there would ever be good enough of a reason to think things are better this way. There could be a million different options in which things could be better but the loss of a loved one is almost never one of them. Instead, I remember being told: “At least, he isn’t suffering anymore” and honestly, this brought me comfort at that specific moment because the universe knows how traumatizing this was be part of every day. However, each story to their own and there might not have been any suffering involved in yours, but traumas of other sorts.
At the end of the day, most of us grieving the loss of someone dear to our heart only wish the same thing: for them to still be present with us. So please do not hesitate to talk about the person missing; keep them alive in the conversations, share stories and make them part of the moments. If you’re not sure, just ask permission to the person grieving, at least that’s what I would do. Just remember, there are as many grieving ways as there are relationships between two people so don’t judge too quickly or try and discredit someone’s grief because it isn’t how you process things.
And to all my grieving friends, I hope you can find the slightest bit of comfort in the idea that somewhere along the way of your life, you had the chance to share your path with someone you loved so deeply. Where there is sadness, there is love…and their love is very much alive.