I have had some losses in my life. I have lost many close loved ones, experienced miscarriage, my parent’s divorce and dealing with loving an adopted child with attachment issues. I think everyone has experienced some sort of loss if they have lived long enough. The question is not will you experience loss at some point, but how will you deal with it? I have learned everyone grieves in their own way and grief is a path, but you can grieve well and you can grieve badly. It all depends on the steps you take as you grieve.
I have written posts about what to say to someone who is grieving and more specifically what not to say. I have thought a lot about that topic as I grieved at times in my life. What I hadn’t thought about till recently is how hard it can be to care for someone who is grieving. I think back to the recent times I was grieving and how I handled what others said and did around me. When someone would come to me and say something that they meant in a good way but wasn’t what I needed to hear at the time, I would feel frustrated and hurt by what they said instead of realizing they were doing the best they knew how at the time. When you grieve, you get stuck in a world all your own and it’s hard to see things from other’s point of view. You cannot see how this person who just said something dumb to you, had thought for a long time about what to day before saying anything. Even though they didn’t help, because nothing can help, they were really trying to be kind. It’s hard to see that they meant well and it wasn’t just an off-hand comment. What I wish I would have done when someone said something that wasn’t helpful or was even hurtful, to edit that comment in my head to say, “I love you and I wish I could say something to make this better”. That is what they meant to say.
I wish I would have realized I wasn’t alone. That when people didn’t talk to me for fear of bringing up something that would further cause me pain, that they were just trying to help and not isolate me, even though it felt that way at the time. Those people still cared and weren’t calloused to my pain, they just didn’t want to say something stupid, so they said nothing. They thought that was the best way to care for me at the time.
I wish I would have realized that my silence made them think I needed space, when the reality was I needed someone to push past my silence and be there anyway. They were just doing what they thought I needed. They didn’t realize I didn’t even know what I needed and that I was silent because I didn’t want to cry in front of them.
All this has made me realize that when you are grieving you have to let people know what you need. They aren’t mind readers. It can be really hard to tell someone what you need, but you won’t get what you need if you don’t. And your true friends will gladly hear and do what you need. If they don’t they weren’t your true friend anyway.
The other thing is that I know when those around me are grieving that they most likely don’t even know what they need each minute, but I am going to guess what it might be and try to do it. If I’m wrong, hopefully they will know I care. If I’m right, then all the better.