by Sandy Walden
Grief. It’s hard. It’s complicated. It’s messy. And so very often there are misunderstandings.
I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately about the times of loss and grief that I have experienced. I found myself becoming quite emotional as I considered the death of someone I care about. We did not have a close relationship, though we both tried in our own ways. It was difficult. As they say, it was complicated.
When he died, there was almost no support from anyone! Some of the people I would have at least expected to ask how I was doing, never even acknowledged his death or that I might have feelings about this ending.
My feelings were so jumbled. Relief that I didn’t have to keep trying to make something work. Sadness that I no longer had the opportunity to build a relationship that was good for both of us. Hurt that these people apparently didn’t care enough about me to even acknowledge that there was a death. Abandoned… didn’t I matter?
Now it’s important that I am clear about my own role in all of this ‘stuff’. I’ve always been quite open about joy and excitement, even anger to some extent. However, when it comes to heartache, deep fears, sadness, I’ve usually either kept it to myself or only shared it with the smallest group of people. If I’m being fair, most of those who never acknowledged this loss in any way most likely thought that they were honoring my preference for privacy and independence.
Hmmmm,… interesting, isn’t it?
At the same time, I found myself considering these people in another way. We have shared many losses and most of them are quite a lot more open about sharing their tears, their ups and downs, and all that brings. They tend to come together and share more with one another than I’ve ever shared with another human being. Truly, stories that I have only shared with my dog!
Have they felt supported by me? My way is so very different than theirs; have they known that I cared and tried my best?
I don’t know. We are very different people. Always have been and always will be. Having said that, we do care about one another very much.
I share this because so often when I work with those who are grieving, they feel sure that others don’t care about them because they are not offering the sort of support that they need. As humans, we often feel as though others ‘should’ know what we want and need. After all, we hurt! Can’t they see that?
If we are not feeling support, cared for, it’s another layer of hurt, wounding, grief.
Others are likely doing their very best. And most often they are offering what feels right to them and have no way of knowing if it is what you need.
The answer? Of course, the answer is more communication. The problem is that sometimes it feels as though we are speaking entirely different languages.
I encourage you to keep trying to learn the language of one another. When there has been wounding, as much as possible, make room for the possibility that each of you was doing your best. Make room for forgiveness and healing.
You both deserve it.
Way for Hope
Losing someone you love is difficult, but it can mean a lot to hear from others traveling similar paths.
Links of Value:
Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Word of God
"My Story" Big Daddy Weave
"Hope in Front of Me"
The Joy FM
Traumatic loss or preexisting conditions can worsen mental health. Use this info graphic to find help.
"Take Charge of Your Mental Health" - a free download from www.nami.org: