Grief and the Other Person, 2

In my last post I described an observation that people who are suffering through grief are often focused on other people’s responses, words, and actions. In my own journey at times I have found myself being too sensitive to some things that others said or did. In addition to the inner turmoil of coming to grips with significant loss, we all must learn to adopt some strategies for dealing with the other person.

Strategy is important. So many of our grief responses are sudden. Every person who has suffered a loss understands what the term “grief attack” means. Unexpectedly we may find ourselves overcome with emotion because of a song, a scent, a place, or just a thought. There isn’t time to figure out what to do at that point- it’s too late to plan. Likewise when we are facing the challenges other people bring us, if we wait until we are in the situation, we have waited too late. Below are some short descriptions of perspectives that I believe will help the grieving person deal with other people in a positive manner.

*Quietly love those who are hurting around you. You may feel you have nothing to offer because your heart has been broken so completely. Your family and friends are hurting too. Hugs and shared tears are within your power.

*Accept help graciously. Just allow people to help. Some may bring food, others may tidy up, someone may mow the lawn, others may field phone calls for you. If you are blessed to have people around you who want to serve, do not resist them. You’ve got other things to think about.

*Grieve as an individual. You had a unique relationship with the deceased. No one can tell you how long various stages of grief may last, or whether you will respond as someone else has. Do not place any pressure on yourself to meet someone else’s expectations.

*Choose not to be offended. It is inevitable that someone will say something really ridiculous to you. It is doubtful that even someone says something fairly insensitive that they meant to hurt you. You have a lot to deal with already – these inadequate words of others should not distract you.

*Remember how you have struggled in the past to talk to others who are in grief. If you are like me, you have probably said some of those ridiculous things yourself in the past. Now you really know what someone is going through.

*Forgive quickly. When you have suffered a tragic loss, all of your attention needs to be on getting better. Hanging on to grudges is hard work. You do not have the energy to do that right now.

*Rest as much as possible. Grief brings fatigue. I didn’t know how tiring it was to be so broken ¬†hearted. ¬†Feel free to take naps. If you need medicinal help to sleep at night, do not hesitate to follow your doctor’s advice.

*In time, be a part of a grief group. To be in the room with others who have experiences similar losses is a gift. It helps to know you’re not crazy, that your feelings are common among hurting people. It also helps to meet some people who have walked your journey many years ago and they are doing well. And they still miss their loved ones as well.

Every grieving person has inward pain to come to grips with. Grief moves in and never leaves our hearts. Every grieving person also has other people involved in their lives. This is a challenge, but also a blessing. It might help, though, in the months ahead to be prepared to handle the challenges that are coming your way.

~John

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