If you know me, you know I am no stranger to grief. You also know I do not mind talking about it. I don’t mind comforting those who are grieving. I, unfortunately AND fortunately have a sense and ….. ummm, shall we say….. talent for helping those in grief. In talking with others on their experiences with grief- Big T trauma grief experiences and little t trauma grief experience, there is one thing we all seem to have in common. It’s that most other people whom are not effected by said grief shy away from us and talking about it. Whether it be immediate grief and loss or a long drawn out illness type grief.
Why does grief make you so uncomfortable?
Grief is something we will all eventually have to deal with sooner or later; some of us, a lot earlier in life than many, myself included. So, why is it that some of us turn away from it, cringe when someone brings up that they’re hurting or try to quickly change the topic as if it is something to be done in secrecy? When a friend brings up that their father/sister/brother/mother etc died or that they lost a relationship how do you respond? “I’m sorry, that sucks!” 🙁 Does it make you so uncomfortable that you immediately try to think of how to change the topic OR do you allow the person to talk openly about their grief, their loved one, the grief at hand and become curious, open and safe for them?
I get it, sometimes you just might not have space to deal with it but that is where we need to learn to not take ON someone’s grief as our own but rather allow them to be in their grief openly without judgement. Sit with that idea for a moment. It’s uncomfortable, I know. It challenges you to think differently but I think that we, as a society, really need to start embracing one another and learn to deal with grief or at MINIMUM allow people to grieve openly without shame. Whether that be on social media, a coffee chat, a phone call where you don’t try to quickly change the topic etc. Now, this doesn’t mean you don’t have boundaries around yourself. I’m simply asking you to look and see how you treat others and even yourself when it comes to grief. It isn’t something that needs to be done in secrecy or to be shunned away in some grief cave. “Sorry, you’re not allowed back into society until you’re done talking about this.” And that is what it feels like sometimes. I know I’m not the only one. Well…… grief doesn’t just disappear. You can’t just “get over it” after X amount of time and years. I heard someone say once, “it’s been 2 years, she should be over it by now!” When referring to them talking about the death of their husband. No.
The thing is…….
The funny (not really) thing about grief is, it is not linear. It has no end date. You don’t just start grieving one day and then go through the “stages of grief” and you’re done. No. It pops up expectedly. In a song, in a breeze, in a meal, in the way someone is walking in front of you at the store, an anniversary date. It’s OKAY to be stricken with grief one day and completely, seemingly okay the next. Grief is not linear; healing is not linear.
Different Grief but we are all hurting….
One thing I want to bring up in grief is comparison. I think, especially nowadays, we like to compare our suffering with others, “oh, my pain isn’t as bad as so and so’s”. This may be true but that doesn’t invalidate the fact that you too are in pain and that you too deserve care, love, healing and openness. Stop comparing your pain to others and stop judging others for grieving over something seemingly “lesser” than what you’re going through. I think, if you look closely, you will find that we are all human and hurting, longing for connection and to be seen, heard, understood and loved. It doesn’t matter who’s is worse. Your experience is valid.
In the words of a beautiful friend of mine, “ All we can do is walk each other home, and be there to witness the human experience, even the shittiest of parts”. I couldn’t agree more. Will you witness my grief without judgement or trying to silence it?
So, the next time a friend or loved one or even yourself is processing some type of grief- whether it be a death, loss of pet, loss of relationships or other loss, try to be a little more open to their experience. Allow open dialogue and if you need to seek out resources, please do, there are grief counselors and other people who want to hear you speak. You are not alone. None of us will escape our Earthly journey without this part of the experience, so why not embrace each other along the way?