My experience: I remember reading, in my quest to figure out my own grief, that you could cut your crying in half if you just set the goal to give yourself some set amount of time to cry. I found this concept very strange at the time. I remember being at my desk about three weeks after Sam had died and breaking into tears, not being able to control it at all. In fact, for the longest time after Sam passed away, I could still “hear” myself crying when I went back, in my mind, to reflect on the moment the doctor told me that Sam had died. I even felt bad for that person I was in that moment. I felt pity for myself in a way I had never felt before–in a disconnected way that was not selfish at all. I can not imagine telling that person to not cry so much.
My daughter hated to see me cry. She was there when the doctor told me of my husband’s (her step-father) passing. When and if she ever cried about the event, it was then, and it was for me, not for Sam. She was very determined to do anything she could to prevent me from crying from that point forward, and was relentlessly positive and upbeat. It was exhausting for me, though it didn’t put any sort of strain on my relationship with her. I understood, somehow, that all these strange reactions I was getting from friends and family were an attempt to comfort me. Everyone wanted to help me stop crying, or at the very least, minimize it.
There are people you will run into while grieving who are only interested in minimizing their own grief, even if it means exacting revenge of some sort on the person most affected by the death. There are others who have absolutely no idea how to deal with grieving people, who can barely tolerate crying when there is no grief, who will avoid you completely when you need them most. Some offer advice based on 2nd hand knowledge. Others are at such a loss, even looking at them creates a deer in the headlight moment.
For those who want to help someone grieving: The truth is, most people have no idea how to help a grieving person: thus the books, sites and tons of advice like this post. What I told my new husband, is the same thing I told my late husband, and it works for people who are crying as well as people who are grieving: Just be there.
Not everyone is touchy feely. Not everyone will appreciate being held or hugged, but everyone who is crying, grieving or similarly afflicted, will appreciate knowing you are THERE. Sit next to them. An arm around a shoulder. A hand over theirs. Listen (don’t talk at). Cry.
A long, dedicated time to just be in their personal space as a comfort, a support and a foundation to rebuild on will be appreciated, even if you can’t figure out on your own what to say, do or offer.
The Bible has only one perfect example in it, and with that example comes the way we should react to grieving: Jesus wept. If it was perfect for Jesus to weep at the death of Lazarus, his good friend, with the women most affected by the death, then it is more than acceptable for you to weep for yourself when you lose a loved one or WITH someone else who is grieving. That is the example.
For those who are grieving: The best thing to do is to remember that others will not be perfect, and will not know how to react to your tears. They will think the best way to help you get past grief is to help you stop crying.
Accept the tears until you are tired of them and then try to figure out what needs to be done to put you in a place more centered to move on (from the crying phase)–but don’t kid yourself that it’s the end of grief. Ending your tears does not end the grieving process as it quickly or easily as they started it.
There is a very good reason why grief is called a ‘process,’ and from my experience, it is so individual that it’s almost pointless to try and write a ‘how to get past grief’ book. That is why this grief blog is literally: I don’t know what to tell you.
If you are here, at the end of this post, you are looking for help in your process, or trying to understand it for someone else, or to prepare for yourself, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We share experiences because they not only help others, but help ourselves to work things out. It’s always easier to work things out with others. It’s the way our bodies and brains were designed. Do the best you can with the information you have and accept there is no perfect, one-size-fits-all, answer for grief. Like many other things, it is something you will have to work out for yourself.
My post from last week is HERE
My online shop is HERE – it would help to share and spread the link.
Please feel free to leave questions, feedback and experiences below. If you have a specific topic on grief you’d like me to address, please leave it in the comments.
2 thoughts on “I don’t know what to tell you: Grief week 2”
I feel after reading this post, like you may have felt starting it: at a loss. Your non-explanation is probably the clearest explanation I’ve heard. After losing my brother and only sibling in August, there is so much that is a blur. Seven months now of day-by-day living, and I am no closer to the “best way” to cope or rebuild. Do you know who I do remember in my foggy at best memories? One friend (yes, one) who came to visit several times a week. Sometimes I would cry violently in front of her; causing her to tear up too at the sight of my pain. But she never left, she never looked away…she wasn’t afraid to explore my pain or her own. The word vulnerability comes to mind and the world needs more of it. Thank you for this thought-provoking post.
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