beach

Grief is…hard for people to talk about

October 30, 20234 min read

Grief is…hard for people to talk about

In the almost 2 years that have passed since I wrote this post there continue to be people who can’t talk to me about my grief. I can’t pretend that doesn’t hurt and that I haven’t been disappointed. But I get it. It’s hard. Knowing how hard it is makes me so grateful for those people who continue to reach out, who are valued members of my support team and keep me going. Since Ben died another family friend lost their son. It’s hard for me to reach out to them because I know what they are facing. I barely have capacity for me and worry I don’t have enough for them. But I reach out when I can. And I know there is no perfect thing to say. Grief needs to be witnessed. Those grieving need to be seen. 

Here’s my original post about an amazing encounter with someone who didn’t know what to say. 

Dec 8, 2020

I received a beautiful gift from a co-worker the other day. We hadn't talked since Ben died as our paths don't cross anymore. Last season, we would see each other daily as our offices were down the hall from each other and the food and coffee kitchens were nearby and offered a chance to chat. This year I mostly work from home and her office is on the other side of a glass wall from where I am allowed in the office. I'd seen her through the glass but our eyes hadn't caught and we hadn't passed each other outside. And then we did. 

She said many of the things people have said and we had a good talk. And then she was very brave and vulnerable. She admitted that since she had heard, when she had seen me she had averted her eyes and shied away from me. She just couldn't say anything. Her kids are around the same ages as mine and she just couldn't. I get it and I told her that. As a collective we don't really deal well with death and grieving and when it's a child it's even harder. We don't have the vocabulary and we don't want to say anything that causes pain. 

Here's the gift. It was a beautiful reminder that there are people who care, who are thinking of us and sending love but just can't say anything. It's hard to know that as this journey sometimes feels lonely. But at the exact right moment I got my reminder. So, if you are someone who hasn't said anything, or not said much, know it's ok. I know you are there. I feel it when you think of us even if you never tell us. The situation I find myself in heightens everything but I bet it's true for all of us. So if you are feeling lonely or dealing with something challenging, know people are thinking of you too. Maybe they don't know what to say or get busy and forget to reach out. But they are there. You are loved.

 

I still think often of that day. Of what a great reminder it was and how much I appreciated her saying something. As time goes by, I think it gets harder for people to say something. They worry they’ll remind me of Ben’s death. I was at a large gathering recently and many, many people who I hadn’t seen since Ben died and all knew him said nothing. It felt so strange to me. One person very kindly said they were so sorry about Ben’s death and it was so helpful for me. If you encounter someone you haven’t seen since they lost a loved one, please say something regardless of how long it’s been. You won’t remind them and make them sad. I think of Ben every moment of every day. It helps me to know that other people think of him too. 

Tips for supporting a griever:

            Acknowledge the death the first time you see them after it’s happened. “I’m so sorry” works. Feeling words from the heart are always good.

            If you think of them and their loved one, let them know. You aren’t reminding them. They remember. It’s comforting to know others remember too. 

Back to Blog

TESTIMONIALS

★★★★★

Through her insightful teachings and thoughtfully designed programs, Suzanne offers a path guided by emotional intelligence and real life experience to address the full spectrum of the complex emotions and consequences of grief while expanding the capacity to engage fully with life post loss. Her heartfelt approach also honours the depth of loss through the invaluable practice of cherishing and expressing love for what has been lost and experienced.

Bonnie Lynn

Business Owner/Consultant

★★★★★

In a recent peer meeting, I shared the statistics you provided regarding the number of co-workers that are dealing with grief at any given time. We committed to not only acknowledging the grief but also to providing sustained support.

Kay McBreairty

Program Manager